GST confusion could cost millions

Non-GST compliant financial systems could potentially lead to million-dollar losses for large organisations, according to a Gartner analyst.

Seven per cent of respondents in a recent Gartner survey of 250 enterprises and government departments and agencies indicated they would not be fully GST-compliant by July 1, 2000.

Gartner Group research director Bruce McCabe expects that portion to rise dramatically as more organisations establish project teams and begin system upgrades. McCabe said businesses would step up their GST projects from January next year.

More than one-third of respondents from the banking sector have progressed no further than appointing a GST project team and 15 per cent of respondents from agriculture and mining organisations have completed no coordinated GST compliance work at all, according to the survey.

Meeting the Federal Government's July 1, 2000 deadline for compliance is the greatest issue large organisations are facing, McCabe said.

"If everyone had two years to do it, I have no doubt compliance would be high," he said.

McCabe said the uncertainty surrounding the GST was a large problem for businesses. The Federal Government is still determining aspects of the legislation, he said.

Additionally, organisations are faced with other tax reform issues, including new and abolished taxes, capital gains reforms and new depreciation rules.

"We can't blame IT managers for not really being on top of it. The blame lies clearly at the feet of the Federal Government and timing. I suspect that by this time next year lawyers will be making a lot of money out of disputes between government and business."