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Coalition unveils small business disaster loan plan

Monday, 4 February 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

The Coalition has revealed a policy for small business emergency assistance, including concessional loans of up to $100,000, with a business group now hopeful the party will unveil costed policies in other areas.

 

In response to the country’s recent spate of natural disasters, namely the floods in Queensland, the Coalition has released details of a plan for small business emergency assistance.

 

“Disasters are tough for small businesses,” the Coalition said in a statement.

 

“Given the immediacy of the challenges facing many Australian communities following natural disasters across the country in recent weeks, the Coalition would welcome any decision of the government to adopt these policies.”

 

If elected, the Coalition’s plan will include:

 

Concessional loans of up to $100,000

 

According to the Coalition, existing government loans do not provide support for businesses that have not experienced any physical damage from a natural disaster.

 

“Under our plan, a small business that has not experienced physical damage as a result of a natural disaster, but still suffers a loss of income as a consequence, will be eligible for a loan of up to $100,000,” it said.

 

“Eligible businesses will be able to pay back these low interest loans over a period of up to seven years at an interest rate of 4%, consistent with existing commonly used guidelines.”

 

GST and PAYG “holiday”

 

The Coalition said it will provide a GST and PAYG holiday to small businesses in disaster-affected areas.

 

“These businesses should have the option of a three-month extension for filing their BAS, and not be required to remit their GST and PAYG payments until that time,” it said.

 

Waive PAYG variation penalty 

 

Disaster-affected small businesses face “real uncertainty” in accurately estimating their ongoing PAYG tax obligations, the Coalition said.

 

“Current tax rules impose penalty interest on businesses that do not estimate their PAYG liabilities with an accuracy of greater than 85%,” it said.

 

“A Coalition government will waive for a period of six months any penalty interest for disaster-affected small businesses failing to estimate their PAYG obligation accurately.”

 

Peter Strong, of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told StartupSmart the policy is well-timed.

 

“To have it come around [the time of] the disasters was good. It shows [shadow small business minister Bruce] Billson is getting his voice heard,” Strong says.

 

“You could say this was probably only the start of [the Coalition] coming up with better policies. Knowing Bruce, I would say this is just the start of a deep focus, and looking at other areas where small businesses are affected.”