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IPA supports small business policy change in Canberra

_MG_7092This week I had the unique opportunity to visit Parliament House in Canberra to take part in a think-tank on small business hosted by Andrew Conway, CEO for the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

The one-day event was primarily focused on reviewing and discussing a comprehensive whitepaper that has been been recently developed by the IPA in collaboration with Deakin University. The whitepaper looks at a range of key issues facing small businesses in Australia, and aims to provide substantive policy input to the Federal Government. The document is due to be submitted to the Federal Government in December.

Casting my eye around the room, I saw a who’s-who of influential people in attendance, so I knew this was going to be a good, productive session. There were representatives from government, business, regulators and industry bodies, including Australian Small Business Commissioner (Mark Brennan), ACCC Deputy Chairman (Dr Michael Shaper), CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Kate Carnell AO), as well as senior executives from NAB, REIA, Telstra, Family Business Australia and more.

Central themes of the day

Six key topics were covered over the course of the day, and each one was fleshed out into a well-considered list of new initiatives and recommended policy changes that can positively impact and invigorate the small business sector.

  1. A simplified and targeted small business tax system which supports small business growth
  2. Australia’s small business are appropriately regulated – providing a safety net without stifling entrepreneurship
  3. Competition policy which supports and promotes small business by creating a level playing field
  4. Adequate and affordable access to responsible finance for small business
  5. Promoting productivity through innovation and use of technology (such as Standard Business Reporting)
  6. Links to our regional trading partners being facilitated to open export markets for small business

The Honorable Bruce Billson MP, Federal Minister for Small Business joined us as the beginning of the day. His passion for this whitepaper was clear. And so it should be, with his department declaring an ambitious agenda to cut red tape in small business to the tune of $1B per annum during the Liberal Party’s current term in government.

Minister Billson made some impressive announcements about reducing SME reporting burdens from 260 down to 26, and the government’s recently-announced ‘Digital by Default’ initiative, which is all about small business embracing online and cloud technologies to create more seamless exchange of data with government bodies. It was also great to hear Minister Billson give a shout out to Xero, commending us for our ground breaking efforts in embracing SBR in our recent tax platform. Continue reading ›

 

Kiwibank launches support for next-gen banking, and new feeds arrive for Australia

Kiwibank has launched support for next-gen banking with XeroFollowing hot on the heels of ASB, Kiwibank has also launched support for next-gen banking with Xero, providing further validation of the vision to bring internet banking and accounting software closer together.

Kiwibank has added support for automated provisioning to their business banking customers, who can now quickly set up feeds for Xero. They can also send payments from Xero back to internet banking for approval.

By creating connections between Xero and the data and systems provided by the banks, businesses can have better control of their financial position. Plus, with the help of their advisors, they can now react more responsively to changing business dynamics.

But our vision goes beyond the simple flow of transaction data from the bank to the accounting system. Our platform will allow customer instructions to be seamlessly sent to the bank from Xero, which allows accounts and feeds to be created automatically. This removes the traditional friction associated with dealing with banking systems, while providing better visibility and control over a small business’s financial position.

And this is just the beginning. When customers connect Xero with the banks and their systems, their businesses can take advantage of additional banking products and services. This will allow them to react faster than ever before, and give the banks more opportunities to help their customers be successful.

By establishing relationships with ASB Bank, TSB and now Kiwibank, Xero is opening up new opportunities for small businesses to interact with their banks. This will save them time, improve their financial visibility and, ultimately, give them even more control over their business and its financial needs.

To use this service, sign in to internet banking and visit Your Settings & Services, click on Xero Services and follow the instructions.

And for our Australian customers, direct feeds have arrived for:

Rural Finance – provides banking services to the Victoria region, and in particular to the agricultural business sector. More details are in our Help Centre. Feeds are available now.

Maitland Mutual - services clients in the Maitland and Hunter valley regions of New South Wales, and are one of the oldest building societies in Australia. They’re providing feeds to Australian customers.  Feeds are available now.

IMB (Illawarra Mutual Building Society) - is the oldest building society in New South Wales and the third largest building society in Australia. We are currently transitioning existing IMB customers over to direct feeds – we’re accepting applications now and feeds will start on the 9th of July. More details are available in the Help Centre.

Our current list Australian direct feeds is available in our Help Centre.  More to come soon.

 

Lodging Payment Summary Annual Reports online with payroll

We’ve released updates today in payroll make it even easier to manage your end of financial year for Australian payroll. We’re holding free online payroll training sessions to get you ready and give you an opportunity to ask any questions. Book now to make your payroll end of year as easy as possible.

Payment Summary Annual Report

You can now lodge your payment summary annual report online from payroll. If you’re an employer you need to lodge this report with the ATO each year. Your report includes all the payments you made to your employees and the tax which was withheld. You can make it easier for your employees to lodge their tax returns by lodging your report early and electronically.

Lodging your payment summary annual report online from payroll is the quickest and most secure way to meet your obligations. All you need to lodge online from payroll is an AUSKey. This is a secure login that identifies you to the government on behalf of a business. For more information access our Help Centre guide.

Payment Summaries can be emailed to your employees from payroll or made available for them to download from My Payroll. They need to be issued to your employees by the 14th July and the annual report lodged with the ATO by the 14th August.

Updates for Auto-Super

We’ve also released a number of changes to further enhance Auto-Super in payroll including:

  • Changes to ensure your compliance with the SuperStream data requirements.
  • The ability to include a negative super accrual to ensure that any adjustments made, e.g. overpayments, are included within the total super payment owing for that employee.
  • Plus other smaller tweaks you won’t see like support for international phone numbers when using SMS authentication.

Starting the new financial year ready to go

The Superannuation Guarantee (SG) rate increases from 9.25% to 9.5% on the 1st July. Moving relevant employees to the new rate has been automatically taken care for you so you don’t have to do anything in payroll. We’ve also updated the payroll tax tables as we do every year so you don’t have to worry.

If you like what you see and haven’t yet made the change to Xero check out our conversion partners or contact to one of our certified advisors. We have some exciting updates coming soon to Payroll and we’ll share these with you as soon as they’re ready.

For full details please check out our release notes.

 

Introducing Federal e-file for US Payroll

Today we’re pleased to announce the release of Federal e-file in US Payroll. Back in April we released the first version of Taxes & Filings. This provided you with signature ready completed tax forms to ensure you could meet your filing obligations.

Easily meet your Federal payroll tax obligations with Federal e-file

With Federal e-file, Xero creates and electronically files your Federal payroll tax forms for you. This allows you to file with the IRS online, at anytime from anywhere to meet your filing obligations. Federal e-file is available to customers on Premium pricing plans. To use Federal e-file it’s required that you enroll your business with Xero. For instructions on how to enroll please click here.

Xero Payroll Federal e-file

Although we’re not yet at our goal of making everything electronic, we’ve achieved a key milestone in this release with Federal e-file. We’re now focused on bringing you Federal electronic payments and other key improvements to continue to strengthen the experience.

Our vision is to provide you with the worlds best payroll experience for small businesses, in all states, allowing you to manage your payroll; easily and without fear. However, at this time we have no plans in the short term to support more states as we focus on the experience in the current states. With our Payroll Add-Ons you can still benefit from using Xero by using one of our integrated partners to manage your payroll.

For full details please check out our release notes or read more instructions in our Help Center.

 

 

Introducing Smart Lists

For the last few years I’ve been in the US building a very small team whose sole focus is on delivering new features that drive additional value to our customer base. Innovations like Online Invoicing and Files have come out of this team. Today I’d like to introduce Smart Lists.

Having run my own small business before starting Xero, and after talking to a lot of our customers over the last eight years, I’ve learned quite a bit about how small businesses work. Actually, both the most amazing, and the most frustrating, thing about building software for small businesses is that while there are a lot of similarities across small business, every business is unique in some way. It’s beautiful. And the reason why we wanted to build them beautiful software.

When I ran a business the one thing that always struck me was how hard it was to find new customers. It was much easier making my existing customers extremely happy so that we could do repeat business. What I’ve realized is that for many small businesses, this is their prefered approach. In fact, according to Bain & Company, it costs six–seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. This is a key metric for small businesses of all types, and it highlights the importance of the connection you have with your existing customer base.

We’ve built Smart Lists because marketing to your existing customer is important. Smart Lists is all about unlocking the treasure trove of information you store in Xero about your customers – what they’ve purchased, how much they’ve spent, the last time you invoiced them, where they’re located and so on.

Smart Lists is essentially an advanced search over your existing customer base, using the accounting platform as the search engine. This search lets you generate highly targeted lists that you can then use to sell to, chase for payment, gather information about, or basically anything else you want!

Many small businesses don’t have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. With Smart Lists, you’re able to communicate with organisations that are already your customers, using the data you’re updating everyday – it’s far less hit and miss.

Continue reading ›

 

Xero release: 23 June 2014

This morning we released a ton of updates to Xero. Here are some of the highlights – check out the Xero release notes to see the rest.

Xero TV on the login screen

23 June 2014 Xero release includes Xero TV on the login screen

We now display education videos right on the login screen making it easier for all users to be smarter with Xero, and discover new features. Our education team has been investing significantly to create useful content for Xero TV and it’s the best place to learn about Xero.

Support for four decimal places on unit prices

We’ve heard you! Plenty of you have been asking for Xero to support unit prices with more precision – a bit more to it than you might think but we hire smart people, so good to be able to tick this off. For most of you it will just work – however, if you use DOCX invoice templates you need to make a small update.

Continue reading ›

 

Apply for an accounting, economics or finance scholarship

Do you know anyone in the US who is in school – or about to head to school – to get an accounting, economics or finance degree? Could they benefit from a little financial help? If so, make sure to tell them about Xero’s $5,000 accounting, economics or finance scholarship.

Here at Xero, the accounting and financial worlds are obviously a huge part of what we do. What’s more, we know that accounting, economics and finance students go on to play an extremely important role in the small business world. So we’ve decided to award $5,000 to a student who is majoring in one (or more) of these subjects.

Xero is offering a $5,000 accounting, economics or finance scholarship to US university students

Who can apply for Xero’s accounting or finance scholarship?

All legal US residents who are currently enrolled full-time at an accredited university or business school (which must also be in the US). Applicants must be majoring in accounting, economics or finance. There is no age limit and it doesn’t matter what stage of study the student is at (see below for GPA requirements).

What can the scholarship money be used for?

Continue reading ›

 

Xero Practice Manager released

Today we released Xero Practice Manager, our online practice management solution, delivering job, time and invoice management to accountants and bookkeepers.

This release is the culmination of months of effort by our product development team and is a strong demonstration of our investment in our partner community. Xero Practice Manager is currently available at no software license cost to members of the Xero Partner Program who have Silver status or above.

Over the past few weeks we have previewed several of the key features of this release, but today marks the general availability of the solution. For a complete overview, take a look at the video below.

Continue reading ›

 

Company Tax Return in Practice Manager

Xero Practice Manager - Company Tax ReturnWe’re almost there!

As we get closer to our next Tax release we thought it was time to go into the new features in more detail and give you guys a little sneak peek so you know what to expect.

Our next instalment welcomes our first version of Company Tax Returns which gives you the ability to create Company Tax Returns for 2013 and 2014 and lodge them to the Australian Tax Office.

The attractive new interface, designed in heavy collaboration with our partners, results in a clean and easy to use experience. You’ll also have the benefit of real time auditing, which means your Company Tax Return will be checked for errors before you attempt to file, saving you time and the hassle of rework.

Worksheets and Schedules you’ll see with this release include:

  • Non Individual Payment Summary schedule
  • Capital Gains worksheet and schedule
  • Losses schedule
  • Dividends and Interest schedule
  • Franking account balance worksheet
  • Capital Allowances (UCA, LVP, SBE) worksheet

Continue reading ›

 

Positioning fixed assets to your clients – in Xero it’s easy

Fixed assets come up regularly as an area of uncertainty when we’re talking to businesses. So we’ve put together a brand new webinar for UK accountants and bookkeepers that want to get their clients up to speed. It explains all the ins and outs of fixed assets and guides you through how to deal with them in Xero.

I caught up with our resident education and training expert, Ashley Driver, to get the lowdown on what fixed assets are, in accounting terms, and the benefits of a better understanding of how to account for them.

Ashley Driver, Xero

Ashley Driver presenting at Accountex 2014

So over to Ashley to explain what fixed assets are…

How would you describe fixed assets to a client?

“Fixed assets in a business are essentially anything that’s owned by that entity that’s of worth and is retained over a period of time. So that could mean motor vehicles, land, buildings or machinery etc. – basically, anything that isn’t likely to be sold or converted to cash quickly.”

Continue reading ›