Business faces $224m bill as payroll tax kicks in

 

Thousands of Queensland businesses have been slapped with a $224m tax bill as the State Government moves to recoup revenue lost at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State Government has asked businesses to repay some of the $1.14bn in payroll tax which was deferred at the start of COVID-19 to help them stay afloat

Businesses who deferred payroll tax between January and April last year had until yesterday to pay their bill.

A spokesman for Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said about $224m in payroll tax deferred from the first quarter of 2020 was now being collected as the state rebounds from the pandemic.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick speaks during Question Time at Parliament House last month. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick speaks during Question Time at Parliament House last month. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

"Household consumption and retail sales data shows most of the Queensland economy is recovering strongly, and there are many businesses in Queensland, particularly in retail, including in the southeast, that are doing very well and have had no problem paying their payroll tax," he said.

"If there are any businesses that have payroll tax obligations and are experiencing significant financial hardship, they can apply for further deferrals through a payment arrangement."

About 98 per cent of deferred payments which were due in January have been paid, however a further $916m in payroll tax will become due between October and January.

It is understood about 95 per cent of Queensland tourism businesses do not pay the tax.

The State Government deferred $1.14bn of payroll tax payments from more than 11,000 Queensland businesses last year.

Opposition Small Business spokesman Brent Mickelberg has called for the government to waive or further defer the "job-destroying tax", which he said would stunt the state's COVID-19 recovery.

"It's actually about supporting businesses which are the drivers of the economy," he said

"Waive these deferred payroll tax liabilities and if you're not prepared to do that, defer them at the least to the time businesses are successful.

"Places like Cairns are still on their knees."

Amanda Rohan from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the bill for deferred payroll tax has come at a bad time. Picture: Annette Dew
Amanda Rohan from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the bill for deferred payroll tax has come at a bad time. Picture: Annette Dew

Mr Mickelberg said the state "can't have it both ways" by urging the Commonwealth to extend JobKeeper while also billing businesses payroll tax.

He said the state had a "legitimate argument" on the need to grow state revenue, but said hard-hit industries should have payroll tax deferred.

Sunshine Coast IGA owner Roz White has called on the government to make the tax "fairer" by exempting family-owned shops from paying.

"If we can make these commonsense changes, we can employ even more Queenslanders at a time that we all need to be doing all we can to create jobs," she said.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Policy general manager Amanda Rohan said payroll tax was a "significant burden on business" before COVID-19 hit and said the bill had come at a bad time.

Ms Rohan said no COVID-affected small or medium business paid payroll tax in 2020, allowing them to stay afloat and keep staff employed.

Originally published as Business faces $224m bill as payroll tax kicks in



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