STATE ELECTION: Bligh promises payroll tax relief

By: Graham Gardiner

Premier Anna Bligh will target payroll tax incentives for apprentices and trainees in a move to cement job certainty and

Premier Anna Bligh will target payroll tax incentives for apprentices and trainees in a move to cement job certainty and safeguard skills.

Under the proposal employers who hire an apprentice or trainee will get a rebate of 125 percent of their apprentice and trainee wages off their payroll tax for another employee.

The State Government has already made apprentices and trainees exempt from payroll tax - now this policy will link apprentice and trainee numbers to making other workers exempt from payroll tax for the first time.

"This means a business with 20 employees including five apprentices could now pay no payroll tax for their entire workforce," she says.

"A larger business with over 150 apprentices could earn an annual payroll tax rebate of over $100,000.

"This policy will take effect from 1 July with companies submitting monthly payroll tax able to gain an immediate cash-flow benefit."

The Premier says the payroll tax reduction will encourage employers to retain and create apprentice positions and also help businesses retain experienced workers.

"The measure will cost an estimated $15 million in forgone revenue," she says.

"This will be offset by reducing the cost of the Queensland Water Commission as their powers are transferred to the Department of Natural Resources and Water and their activities wound back.

"I said this campaign would be about the careful use of money and that’s why we will redirect funds from the Water Commission which was established to deal with a crisis and which has done a great job."

The Premier says around 17,500 businesses in Queensland employ more than 90,000 apprentices and trainees.

"There are currently 48,066 apprentices and 43,691 trainees in Queensland and apprentice numbers have grown by 25 percent over the last three years compared to 7 percent nationally," she says.

"Under this policy the more apprentices they hire, the larger the saving which will also make it easier for them to retain existing jobs.

"The Queensland economy needs these workers - these young men and women are learning the skills that will keep Queensland strong.

"More than 12,500 apprentices are employed in the construction industry. This measure will help us keep the skills we need to build our record $17 billion capital works program.

"Less than a year ago we were struggling with a serious skills shortage and we need to look over the horizon to when the economic conditions improve.

"This deduction means that Queensland businesses will have more money in the kitty to put towards retaining full time staff.

"This move will not only protect jobs but it will protect the skills base that Queensland needs to come out of this economic crisis in a stronger, not weaker, position."

In Queensland businesses that pay out more than $1 million in wages each year are charged a payroll tax on each employee.

The $1 million threshold is the highest in mainland Australia meaning only larger businesses in Queensland pay the tax.

In addition Queensland’s maximum rate of payroll tax is 4.75 percent - the lowest level in Australia.

"This payroll tax system, combined with our low Workcover premiums, already makes Queensland one of the most attractive places in the country to do business," says the Premier.

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