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Calls for the company tax rate to be cut in the budget is a perennial issue, and one that small business inevitably weighs in on.

There have been calls for small business to benefit from a lower tax rate for decades. In the three major tax reviews conducted since the early 1970s, (Asprey, Ralph and Henry) – the call has not been answered.

Despite recognition that a number of OECD countries provide their small businesses with a lower company tax rate, successive Australian governments have continually supported other “favourable” taxation arrangements for small business.

Yet the calls have not been dampened.

Council of Small Businesses of Australia chairman Peter Strong has been outspoken on the issue in favour of a lower rate for his members.

“The difference between big and small business is profound. A small business is a person who is in the end just a taxpayer,” he said.

Mr Strong has drawn attention to the ongoing tax evasion of big business, which in turn, comes back on the Australian tax payer.

“As a result, our national budget suffers and governments have to make individual taxpayers pay for the sins of the biggest businesses,” he said.

The Tax Institute is another body urging the Federal Government to use the 2016 Budget to enact meaningful tax reform.

“The government brought relief to small business last year and promised tax incentives for early stage investors in its innovation statement, however the current tax debate has become redundant despite the government previously committing to holistic tax reform,” the organisation said in a statement.

While the Tax Institute was not optimistic for significant structural tax initiatives in the 3 May Budget, it was calling for a reduction of the company tax rate to 25% (currently 28.5%).

It did not, however, outline calls for a separate and lower rate for small business.

In the last budget, the government was steadfast that while it agreed small businesses should pay less tax on their profits and be treated more favourably that larger businesses, it would not be creating a separate tax rate.

For this reason, it’s unlikely the 2016-17 budget will differ on this issue.

The government has previously stated that separate tax arrangements may:

  • distort choices including the structure of business organisation and commercial decisions about forms of expenditure;
  • result in economic inefficiency if they interfere with the market and result in the allocation of resources to small, less efficient, firms rather than to larger, more efficient, ones.

That said, the government has pulled rabbits out of its hat before – with one week to go before the budget, time will tell.

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