The small business ombudsman has used an appearance before a Senate committee to push for changes to the 12-month amnesty on superannuation liabilities for SMEs.
Appearing before the Senate Standing Committee on Economics, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell claimed the amnesty was needed so that “the very few small businesses across Australia that are not up-to-date with their superannuation obligations for current and past employees are able to get their affairs in order.”
“Small businesses will need time to work with their accountant, audit and identify missed payments, and calculate the capacity to pay within their projected cash flow. Allowing preparation time while the legislation is considered will maximise the number of businesses willing, and ready, to take advantage of the amnesty,” Ms Carnell said before the committee.
“Small businesses may not have the financial capacity to make catch-up payments in one lump sum and still meet ongoing obligations. If they enter into a payment plan, payments made during the duration of the plan must attract the same conditions.
“And during the period of the amnesty, regular promotion through all channels available should be carried out to alert and remind small businesses of the opportunity to become compliant without penalties.”
She pushed for the amnesty to commence from the date the legislation is passed, rather than the already established amnesty date which took effect from 24 May 2018, in order to give businesses maximum preparation time.
Ms Carnell also proposed that it be heavily promoted to deliver awareness across the business community, and that the conditions of no penalties and payments being tax deductible extend for the life of a payment plan.
“Moving forward, I would like to see a superannuation system for small business that is less complicated and easier to comply with. This would ensure unpaid superannuation to employees is an issue of the past,” Ms Carnell said.
The amnesty was unveiled by Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer in May in a bid to boost the Superannuation Guarantee (GS) compliance rate above its current 95 per cent level.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.