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  • Cameron Finlay

Budget 2023

The Budget was underwhelming, long on cost-of-living measures and tax compliance, but bereft of major tax reform. It was prudent, aimed at addressing short-term challenges and avoiding the overheating of inflation and the economy.

The Treasurer forecasts a surplus, mainly from more people in jobs and tax on company profits, and higher royalties from a strong mining sector (coal, iron ore, gas). Much of this windfall has been sensibly applied to reducing government debt.

The Government is cruising, this Budget won’t help the RBA reduce inflation, so monetary policy will continue to fall regressively on households (the inflation was caused by excessive government spending in the last 3 to 4 years).

This Budget was not about tough decisions on major spending or reform of a rickety tax system to boost economic growth and falling productivity. More a system of small steps than big-picture initiatives, and no credible plan for a return to surplus in the future.

Measures for Small Business:

  • A temporary extension in the Instant Asset Write-off to $20,000, for one year only, from 1 July 2023

  • No renewal of the loss carry-back provisions

  • Cancellation of the 20% Technology Investment boost

  • Reduction of the tax uplift to 6% from 1 July 2023 for GST and PAYG installments

  • From 1 July 2026, employee super is to be paid on the same day as wages are paid (no longer quarterly)

  • Support for SMEs integrating quantum and AI technologies, to improve processes and trade competitiveness

  • An additional 20% of the cost of assets for the more efficient use of energy

  • From 1 July 2025, businesses will have up to 4 years (now 2) to amend tax returns.

More Compliance and Administration

  • Extension of the Personal Tax Compliance program in scope, including short-term property rentals

  • Activities to ensure GST compliance and detect emerging risks

  • Extending the scope of anti-avoidance rules to schemes where tax saving was not the dominant purpose

  • Amnesty to remit failure-to-lodge penalties, especially from 2019 to 2021, if lodged by 1 December 2023

  • More funding for Serious Crime Taskforce

  • Facilitate settling high-value and older debts.

The Economy and Assumptions

  • The gains from extra taxes and royalties can’t rely on long term, so deficits return from 2024/25

  • Inflation to reduce to 3% in 2023/24

  • Gross debt to GDP reducing, but assumes savings possible on fast-growing NDIS

  • Growth to slow to below 3%.

Some Thoughts

  • Treasury assumptions and forecasts are rarely right

  • Industry worldwide needs coal, gas, iron ore, copper, platinum, lithium, etc., so expect a commodities boom over the next five years

  • Growth in employment and migration will bring on another building boom

  • Interest rates should fall, starting later this year

  • No measures or changes affecting tax planning this 2023 year.

Cam Finlay (Arnold & Finlay Accountants & Planners Pty Ltd)

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