Tax re­lief for busi­nesses

Mansfield Courier - - Rural - By STRUAN JONES

THE Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment will de­liver an ex­tra $64m for bush­fire-af­fected com­mu­ni­ties in a pack­age that will fast-track pay­roll tax re­lief, slash stamp duty, waive wa­ter rates and pro­vide ex­tra sup­port for lo­cal coun­cils.

The pack­age was an­nounced on Mon­day by Premier Daniel An­drews and Bush­fire Recovery Vic­to­ria chair­man Ken Lay.

The pack­age in­cludes im­me­di­ate re­gional pay­roll tax re­lief in ‘State of Dis­as­ter’ ar­eas, which in­cludes the Alpine and Wan­garatta shires, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek. Em­ploy­ers in these ar­eas will only pay 25 per cent of the metropoli­tan rate.

Also in­cluded is a 50 per cent con­ces­sion on stamp duty for el­i­gi­ble prop­er­ties, al­low­ing busi­nesses to re­lo­cate, ex­pand or move into fire-af­fected ar­eas.

The gov­ern­ment will also es­tab­lish a $10 mil­lion Coun­cil As­sis­tance Fund, ad­min­is­tered by Bush­fire Recovery Vic­to­ria, for lo­cal gov­ern­ments in State of Dis­as­ter ar­eas to ac­cess fund­ing for peo­ple who have dam­aged or de­stroyed prop­erty, sup­port busi­nesses sub­ject to an­nual charges or per­mits, or to waive other fees or charges.

El­i­gi­ble coun­cils will be able to de­ter­mine how best to al­lo­cate their fund­ing, which may in­clude rate re­lief for res­i­dents and busi­nesses if they choose. The state does not have ju­ris­dic­tion to waive coun­cil rates.

“This is im­me­di­ate and prac­ti­cal sup­port to fam­i­lies and busi­nesses who have been through so much,” Mr An­drews said.

“We can’t change what these com­mu­ni­ties have been through, but we’re do­ing what we can to make the recovery that lit­tle bit eas­ier.”

Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Val­ley) crit­i­cised the mea­sures as not go­ing far enough.

“Daniel An­drews has spent all of our money in Mel­bourne and here’s his first op­por­tu­nity to sup­port re­gional Vic­to­ria busi­nesses and we re­ally just get the scraps off the ta­ble,” Mr McCurdy said.

“It re­ally is a pretty soft ap­proach. He needs to dig deeper, he needs to re­ally come and sup­port our re­gional com­mu­ni­ties be­cause he cer­tainly hasn’t done that.”

Sec­re­tary of the Bright and Dis­trict Cham­ber of Com­merce, Bruce Hore, said pay­roll tax re­lief for em­ploy­ers was some­thing the cham­ber had re­quested at a busi­ness cham­ber roundtable with the Prime Min­is­ter in Can­berra two weeks ago.

“For small busi­nesses, cash­flow is king, and these mea­sures seem to sup­port the free­ing up of cash-flow,” he said.

The Bright cham­ber met with the Busi­ness Coun­cil of Aus­tralia in Can­berra yes­ter­day, and is meet­ing with the Alpine Shire Coun­cil to­day to dis­cuss what more can be done to sup­port busi­nesses re­cover from an es­ti­mated shire-wide $90 mil­lion hit to busi­ness this month.

“We need to en­sure gov­ern­ment de­part­ments un­der­stand the eco­nomic im­pact is be­yond dam­aged prop­er­ties,” Mr Hore said.

“The cham­ber is ex­cited about the grants and loans on of­fer, but there needs to be clear and con­cise in­struc­tions on how to ap­ply for them.”

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