Queensland Budget: BDO Commentary

14 June 2016

Leading audit, tax and advisory firm BDO has labelled the Palaszczuk Government’s second budget as beige and safe, and one that boasts no substantive revenue measures, yet still proposes additional capital expenditure measures. 

BDO Tax Partner Leisa Rafter said one of the most significant missed opportunities from this budget was the lack of commitment to repeal transfer duty on business assets.

“With the announcement of the $40 million Industry Attraction Fund to bring new business to Queensland, existing Queensland businesses would be looking for duty reductions,” Ms Rafter said.

“Abolishing the duty on the transfer of business assets would be a step towards aligning duty legislation across the country, which simplifies the rules and reduces compliance costs for businesses – a win-win for Queensland business.”  

Ms Rafter also noted the announcement of a 3% stamp duty surcharge for foreign buyers into the Queensland residential property market but questioned the Government on its worthiness. 

“This measure is projected to raise $15 million within the first financial year and we query whether this revenue will be worthwhile to overcome the disincentive to foreign residential investment,” she said.

The Office of State Revenue is being funded to undertake more compliance activity.  In particular, the Government has announced it will target those taxpayers who incorrectly claim to be a not-for-profit organisation.

“In our experience the issues we have come across relate to genuine not-for-profits being excluded based on a technicality,” Ms Rafter said. 

“The Government should be wary on a harsh crackdown as not-for-profits deliver a variety of services in place of the Government.”  

BDO Research & Development Partner Nicola Purser said the additional $225 million committed for Advance Queensland is a strong move by the Palaszczuk Government in a business environment that thrives on innovation.

“The initiatives announced in this budget have the hallmarks of great innovation policy and if executed well, have the potential to substantially boost the growth of innovative business in the state,” Ms Purser said.

“However, the majority of the funding in this announcement will go to a number of indirect measures aimed to address structural gaps in the state’s innovation policy and fails to provide any direct funding for business in Queensland.

“Instead, a number of the initiatives place a focus on improving innovation in regional areas, investing in knowledge of future generations and providing support to industry through guidance and networking.

“For these initiatives to really take full effect it’s important they are not hindered by restrictions and complex arrangements such as those seen in the Government’s previously announced Business Development Fund.”

BDO Corporate Finance Partner Reece Edwards said the $2 billion going toward funding Queensland’s immediate infrastructure priorities was a strong move.

“We note that of that $2 billion, around $1.5 billion is to be guided by the pipeline of projects identified by Building Queensland,” Mr Edwards said.

“Providing funding certainty for projects in the pipeline that meets Building Queensland’s rigorous business case economic criteria will increase confidence in the infrastructure sector and provide a boost to economic productivity in Queensland.”