The week in brief March 17 2015

All the smaller - and occasionally bizarre or humorous - business newspieces from Australia and abroad from the past week.

All the smaller - and occasionally bizarre or humorous - business newspieces from Australia and abroad from the past week. 

The April 30 deadline for businesses to submit applications to claim the R&D Tax Incentive is fast approaching. Many SMEs miss out on claiming the R&D incentive because it needs to be claimed in the year it occurred. The incentive allows companies with grouped turnover less than $20 million per annum to access a 45 per cent refundable tax offset that can be used to reduce the amount of tax the business has to pay.  Any remaining offset amounts can then be taken as a cash refund. Annual applications for registration for the R&D tax incentive are due 10 months after the end of the company’s income tax year, so for companies with a financial year that ends 30 June 2014, the deadline for applications is 30 April 2015. 

Read more here.

New Westpac research has found that 67 per cent of Australians have had new business ideas, yet only 22 per cent have followed through to bring these ideas to life. The Westpac Business Ideas Report has found that many Australians spend a large proportion of time thinking about new products or services, but they are having trouble bringing these ideas to market. 54 per cent of Aussies say they have forgotten about new business ideas in their lifetime, at an average of seven (7.3) ideas each. Westpac says this could amount to around 64 million forgotten ideas nationwide. 75 per cent of existing business owners who are familiar with the process of bringing new ideas to market believe it is particularly difficult to bring a new product or service to market in Australia, with the most common items that would help them launch their business ideas being: more time (37 per cent), more capital (35 per cent) and access to technology (26 per cent).

The number of actively trading businesses in Australia increased by 1.0 per cent between June 2013 and June 2014, according to new ABS figures. The ABS’ Australian Business Counts publication showed there were 2,100,162 actively trading businesses in Australia in June 2014, an increase of 20,496 active businesses since June 2013. The largest number of Australian businesses were in the Construction industry (16.1 per cent), followed by Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (11.9 per cent) and Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services (10.9 per cent). The Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry and the Manufacturing industry have recorded a decline in numbers every year since 2007. Counts of businesses mainly operating in Tasmania and South Australia reduced in June 2014 from June 2013, while all other states and territories increased. Of the 294,210 new business entries during the 2010-11 financial year, 76 per cent were still operating in June 2012; 59 per cent were still operating in June 2013, and 50 per cent were still operating in June 2014.The release showed the vast majority (97 per cent) of Australian businesses in June 2014 were small businesses.

Malcolm Turnbull has signaled a move for the Government to start charging GST on online advertising, a move aimed at internet giants Facebook and Google, which are broadly seen as paying far less in tax than many believe they are liable for. Speaking to media, the Communications Minister said he would move for the tax to be imposed on the internet giants because of growing unease about how little tax the multinationals pay in Australia. He said the Australian Government could charge GST as a unilateral move, bypassing any concerns about changing tax arrangements contravening international agreements on taxation. Says Turnbull, “The Australian media industry is under enormous pressure from online platforms, notably Facebook and Google. The modest amounts of company tax both companies pay in Australia has been a matter of great concern and there is a global discussion going on about how these internet age companies should be taxed in a matter that delivers a fair return to the countries where they make most of their money.” Read more here.

The ACCC reports that Federal Court has declared that Safety Compliance Pty Ltd (Safety Compliance) contravened the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the  Competition and Consumer Act 2010) by making false or misleading representations and engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct directed towards small businesses in connection with the supply of safety wall charts and first aid kits. The Court found that Safety Compliance made false or misleading representations to small business consumers that workplace health and safety laws required businesses to maintain safety wall charts and first aid kits of the same nature as those sold by Safety Compliance. The Court also found that Safety Compliance falsely represented that it was affiliated with, or actually was, a state or territory workplace health and safety agency.

A third of Australian SMEs say they have no ultimate plans for their business, with one in five nominating “good luck” as a key driver. A third are not clear on what is fundamentally driving their business. These are the findings from the second Scottish Pacific SME Growth Index and represent the views of 1,253 SMEs from a diverse range of industries, with annual turnover of between $1-20 million. According to the survey, four out of 10 businesses have a trade sale as the ultimate goal for their business, but 34.9 per cent of small business owners do not have any concrete long-term plans, which suggests a short term focus amongst small business owners and decision makers.


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