Users dark about GST Tax Office ruling delays

Uncertainty about foreign currency transactions and an assortment of other compliance issues are occupying IT managers with the start of GST less than a month away.

While many companies had deferred e-commerce development to give priority to GST systems preparation, those implementing online Australian Tax Office (ATO) transactions battled their own set of problems.

For Kodak Australia, due to the size of its revenue base, online GST compliance is mandatory, but the group's GST systems coordinator, Bill Disseldort, says a lack of direction from the ATO has created uncertainty about foreign currency transactions.

"Our GST preparations are well in hand but we cannot complete our systems until we get a ruling on calculating foreign currency invoices and this is causing some uncertainty," he said.

Foreign currency transactions are often paid in Japanese yen or US dollars and the ATO wants the GST to be calculated in Australian dollars, which raises the question of which benchmark is to be used.

"We need a ruling on which exchange rate will be used on a daily basis and the government is yet to make a decision," Disseldort said.

"There is only a month to go and we need definitive rulings to complete our own systems because we will have to go with something in the end." Disseldort admitted the development focus had shifted to accommodate the GST and the associated problems that arise with its implementation.

"At the moment we are having difficulty accessing the ATO's online sites, which we suspect is an incompatibility with browsers so we have to address that issue," he said.

Kodak infrastructure manager, Barry Warden said compliance with the new tax is a process of changing business practices to meet GST requirements.

"This includes getting suppliers to also make changes and getting them to provide their ABNs and other relevant information," Warden said.

Metalcorp Steel also admitted having difficulty accessing the ATO's online sites.

The group's financial controller, Caroline Ware said access wasn't consistent and visibility is not always there.

"We have to be online because of the size of the company, but the ATO needs to upgrade its systems because sometimes its site is there and sometimes it isn't," Ware said.

"I'd estimate Metalcorp to be about 70 per cent GST ready; we are still updating our own systems but we will meet the new tax deadline."

Ware supported claims GST compliance had hindered e-commerce development options.

"{Without] the GST we could utilise those resources elsewhere," she said.

IT manager for Steel-Line Garage Doors, James Johnson, said the group will use a mix of both online and offline GST transactions with the ATO.

"We are still working toward the June 30 deadline as our software is not ready yet, but we are certainly on schedule," Johnson said.

"We've decided to remain open-minded initially to see what we can do online."

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