Red tape is eroding competitiveness and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) tops the list of bureaucracies for generating troublesome regulatory hurdles, a survey has found.
The ATO leads the NSW Business Chamber's fifth annual Red Tape Survey, followed by NSW local governments, safety regulators, Fair Work Australia and Centrelink.
"I'm not surprised the ATO continues to be the bane of business operators - it interacts with nearly every business in Australia in some fashion, and almost three quarters of respondents believe interacting with it is complex and time consuming," said Stephen Cartwright, the chamber's CEO.
Seven out of ten businesses surveyed indicated that the cost and time to comply with regulations have increased over the two years, with less than 1 per cent indicating those factors have decreased.
Over half of those surveyed said their ability to grow their business had been hampered by regulatory requirements.
Mr Cartwright said small businesses employed more than seven million Australians.
"Red tape and the cost of regulation is on the rise and that is eating away at our national competitiveness, our ability to innovate and improve productivity, and very importantly the chance to grow our businesses and employ more people," he said.
Mr Cartwright said he was concerned that two in five businesses believed they had to comply with regulations that made "no sense".
"Im concerned to hear that businesses are being asked to comply with regulations that appear to make no sense, or have become obsolete and meaningless," he said.
"Government is quick to add new regulations but painfully slow and reluctant in eliminating old and burdensome red tape."
The federal government has asked the Productivity Commission to investigate the red tape burden on small business.
NSW Local Government Minister Don Page said he was aware of the concerns about excessive local government red tape and was tackling the problem.
"Small business is the engine room of the state economy and the Liberals and Nationals government is doing everything it can to fight the scourge of red tape," he said.
Mr Page said he was looking forward to the recommendations of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal's review of excessive costs and requirements.
The recommendations would go to the Independent Local Government Review Panel, which is due to deliver its final report in July.
Mr Page said a panel had been charged with completely rewriting the Local Government Act, the longest in Australia at more than 550 pages.
"Drafting a new Act gives us a great opportunity to cut red tape and make life simpler for everyone when they use council services," he said.