Traditionally a budget in an election year contains a host of sweeteners and giveaways but this year the government simply didn’t have the money to soften up the business community.

The overwhelming majority of the measures touted as part of the government’s plans to “support business to innovate” had already been announced including the $500 million investment in Industry Innovation Precincts and the government’s $1 billion “Plan for Australian Jobs”.

Swan described these measures in his budget speech as “part of our plan to support and create jobs, building on our loss carry-back and instant asset write-off reforms for 3 million small businesses”.

But he failed to mention the loss carry-back scheme, announced in last year’s budget, is still to be legislated for.   Rather than offering support for business, under the measures announced in tonight’s budget businesses will be targeted through:

  • The provision of $67.9 million to the Tax Office to crack down on trust misuse
  • A $77.8 million boost to the ATO’s data matching
  • An increase in the 457 visa application fee to almost double
  • More upfront checks for start-ups registering Australian Business Numbers and an increased business name registration fee
  • The shutting down of “unfair business tax loopholes” by focusing on offshore marketing hubs and business restructures
  • Confirmation that self education expenses will be capped at just $2000.

But it is an election year after all so Swan has included a few measures for business to help the medicine go down:

  • $29.4 million in assistance for small and medium businesses vying for government services and tenders
  • Funding to standardise the business name registration process
  • $12.9 million to assist businesses in accessing the National Broadband Network
  • Protection of entitlements for contractors in the textile and clothing industry.

The business community may be relieved that Swan’s cuts and revenue raisers were not more savage. But there’s not much in tonight’s budget for voters and businesses to look to come September.

*This article originally published at SmartCompany

Peter Fray

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