‘A positive step’: Payroll amnesty granted for SA practices

Jolyon Attwooll

28/06/2023 4:05:15 PM

The South Australian Treasurer has paused application of reinterpreted payroll tax rules until the end of June next year.

Calculator, invoices and stethoscope.
General practices in South Australia have another year to prepare for the new interpretation of payroll tax.

General practices in South Australia will be given another year to prepare for a new interpretation of payroll tax laws that owners cited recently as the biggest priority for the profession across the country.
This week, the South Australian Government confirmed a move to grant an amnesty until 30 June 2024.
Any changes will also not be retrospectively applied to practices that register by 30 September 2023 under the agreement.
RACGP South Australia Chair Dr Siân Goodson welcomed the development, which followed discussions between the college and the state’s Treasurer, Stephen Mullighan.
‘It’s very positive news the South Australian Government has heeded the RACGP’s calls and recognised how this could impact general practice care,’ she said.
‘I would like to thank Treasurer Mullighan for working with the college and carefully listening to our members’ concerns.’
Dr Goodson described the move as ‘a reprieve’ following rising concerns about payroll tax obligations among general practice owners.
These have been fuelled by the Thomas and Naaz tribunal ruling in NSW last year, which found that three bulk-billing practices in the state had ‘relevant contracts’ that made them liable for payroll tax for tenant GPs, who had historically been treated as contractors.
An attempt to appeal that ruling was rejected by the Supreme Court of NSW Court of Appeal earlier this year.
The recent move in South Australia follows a similar step taken by the Queensland Government, which has put an amnesty in place until 30 June 2025.
In a newsGP poll earlier this year, only a very small minority of respondents (3%) said that general practices will be able to absorb the costs linked to tenant GPs becoming liable for payroll tax.
Of those who responded, 18% said they would have to close their practice if state governments began treating tenant GPs as employees.
More than three-quarters (78%) said any such move would force practices to raise their fees.
‘Today’s announcement is a positive step forward for general practice care in South Australia,’ Dr Goodson said.
She also told The Advertiser that general practices would ‘absolutely, definitely’ have been forced to close if the SA Government had sought retrospective payments.
‘If they had, many clinics would simply no longer be viable,’ Dr Goodson said.
‘The tax take could have started right now but thankfully it won’t – this amnesty gives us time to prepare.
‘It would have been an absolute disaster for SA if they imposed retrospective taxes.’
She encouraged practices to apply for amnesty prior to the 30 September deadline.
Treasurer Mullighan said the RACGP had been ‘very constructive’ in the talks and that college advocacy had helped deliver an important outcome.
‘I thank them for coming together with us to reach an agreement to ensure frontline health services are not impacted,’ he said.
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