SA Liberals promise to double payroll tax threshold

The Australian, February 5, 2018

Businesses in South Australia with an annual wage bill below $1.5 million will be exempt from payroll tax under a plan announced yesterday by state Liberal leader Steven Marshall at the party’s election campaign launch.

Mr Marshall said lifting the threshold from $600,000 will help stimulate the state’s “sluggish” economy and create employment, a view shared by Malcolm Turnbull who spent much of his speech scolding the 16-year-old Labor government.

“South Australians for too long have been let down by a Labor government that has failed to provide any economic leadership at all,” the Prime Minister told the crowd. Mr Turnbull said jobs had been lost from South Australia because businesses had formed the view that it was “more attractive to invest somewhere else”.

South Australia lifting its payroll tax threshold to $1.5m would match the Northern Territory and be below that of the ACT only, which has a threshold of $2m.

In the eastern states, Queensland’s threshold of $1.1m is above that of NSW ($750,000) and Victoria ($625,000).

Mr Marshall, whose satisfaction rating of 27 per cent in the latest Newspoll was his lowest since the 2014 election where his party won 53 per cent of the vote but failed to get a majority of the state’s 47 lower house seats, said the policy would save industry $44.5m a year and allow businesses to boost productivity by employing additional staff.

If the Liberal Party forms government following the March 17 election, the new measure will come into effect next January 1.

“Payroll tax is quite simply a tax on jobs, it’s a disincentive for people to take on employees,” Mr Marshall said. “South Australian businesses are drowning under the burden of red tape and skyrocketing business costs, such as electricity bills and council rates, as well as taxes like the emergency services levy and payroll tax.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said: “There’s always this argument that if you let business get away without paying taxes, they’ll create more jobs; the truth is their shareholders just make more money.”