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Small business tax-time trends

As the tax deadline for tax year 2013 quickly approaches and businesses across the US rush to prepare essential information for their accountants, the spotlight is thrown on small business tax issues.

For the third year running, we surveyed 400 accounting professionals across the country to get their take on which tax and accounting issues are plaguing small business.

Some of the information we gathered was both informative and interesting. When asked what is the strangest item their clients have tried to write off, more accountants say a family or personal trip disguised as a business trip than any other item. The top five strangest items after that include an animal or pet, pet supplies, food or groceries, and a swimming pool or hot tub – in that order. Although not as common, some particularly interesting items include a face lift, a robot and Girl Scout cookies.

We’ve presented some of the most interesting and helpful information in this infographic:

Xero Tax Time Infographic

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Xero ‘top online accounting app’ – PCWorld & Macworld

On Monday, Xero was named the “top choice” in the list of “favorite online-based business accounting apps” by both PCWorld and Macworld. We’re all about being online and accessible from a range of devices, so getting recognized as a favorite online accounting app by both PCWorld and Macworld was great validation of that accessibility.

The list also highlighted some features of Xero that we continue to hone through our ecosystem of add-on partners. Xero doesn’t have built-in time tracking, as the article notes, but we do have partnerships with over two dozen third-party vendors in this space. Why? We recognize that if we attempt to do everything ourselves, our core competences will suffer, so we look to our partners to extend Xero. These relationships allow our customers to build a customizable total business solution around Xero.

The articles had good things to say about our bank reconciliation process, dashboard, QuickBooks conversion service, reporting and iOS app (we just recently re-launched our Android app as well). Each one of these features has been a high priority for our product teams and we are continually tweaking and refining these functions in order to make Xero as “beautiful” as possible. Being recognized for all these things, some little and some large, is a welcomed sign that we are on the right track.

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Xero API Developers of the year for 2013

In internet years, 2009 is ancient history. Household names like Instagram and Pinterest were yet to be founded, and cloud trailblazers like Xero were boasting rapid customer signups. In 2009, at the end of the financial year, Xero had 6,000 customers – less than 3% of our current customer base.

So, it took a little bit of guts in those early days for Nik Wakelin, Jared Armstrong and James Nisbet to go off and create one of the first true standalone Xero Add-ons. They were looking to solve the pain point they experienced as contract software developers – tracking time in Xero.

Xero API developers

Pictured L-R: Xero Head of Developer Relations, Ronan Quirke, Xero API product manager Tony Rule, MinuteDock co-founder Nik Wakelin, MinuteDock co-founder Jared Armstrong, Xero CEO Rod Drury, MinuteDock co-founder James Nisbet.

Out of their need to track & bill time, MinuteDock was born, and continues today to be one of our most popular, and highly rated Xero Add-ons.
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Government launches New Zealand Business Number

The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) was formally launched today by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Commerce Minister Craig Foss at Xero in Wellington.

Rod and New Zealand Ministers at Xero in Wellington
Left to right: Colin MacDonald, Chief Executive, Secretary for Internal Affairs, Secretary for Local Government and Government Chief Information Officer, Minister Hon Craig Foss, Minister Hon Steven Joyce, me and David Smol, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

All businesses, government agencies and commercial entities in New Zealand will be assigned a unique NZBN, designed to make it simpler for businesses to work with government.

While NZBNs were initially allocated to companies in December 2013, the Government today announced the month-long consultation on options for extending coverage to other businesses, including sole traders.

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EC Sales List

Being able to create an EC Sales List is great news for all of Xero’s UK users; it’s nice to be able to tick off another highly requested Xero Community feature

If you’re not a UK user, don’t leave! I’ve listed a couple of other updates at the bottom of the post that may be of interest to you.

For the rest of you, below is a quick overview of what we’ve done (and what’s still to come).

There are three primary features of the EC Sales List:

  • EC Sales List – the main report itself, including custom validation to ensure the necessary information is present and in the correct format to be submitted to HMRC Online Services.

  • Audit report  – an accompanying report that lists all the transactions that make up the main report.

  • HMRC export  – as well as standard export formats for PDF, Excel and Google Sheets, there is a custom HMRC format that can be easily submitted via the HMRC portal.

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Introducing Peter Karpas

I’m up in San Francisco this week as our new North American CEO Peter Karpas joins the team.

There was video crew in the office so managed to get him on film …

When I first met Peter at PayPal a couple of years ago I thought he was one of the smartest people I’d met and we had a great session sparking off each other. It’s fantastic to have him on the team and leading our US efforts.

 

100,000 customers for Xero in Australia!

We’re thrilled to announce that we have reached 100,000 paying customers in Australia today. It’s been an amazing journey since I started at Xero three years ago, and it’s just getting better. To commemorate this milestone and thank our Customers, Partners and wider ecosystem, we made a video.

Check it out:

 

Xerocon New Zealand 2014 – Day One

More than 900 accounting, bookkeeping and add-on partners flooded into the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland this morning for Xerocon New Zealand 2014. The line was long, but we got everyone inside eventually!

Xero minis at Xerocon New Zealand 2014

MC Petra Bagust kicked things off this morning. She was excited, talking about our values – love, beauty, transformation, fun. She described the atmosphere as majestic, magnificent, amazing and life-changing. “This is the kind of conference I want to be involved in!” she said. Same!

Petra Bagust emcees at Xerocon New Zealand 2014

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Webstock 2014: Rattling the cage

Webstock presentationIt’s hard to believe, but this year’s Webstock was the best ever. And I’ve been to them all.

As always, there was a phenomenal mix of speakers: designers, technologists, entrepreneurs, thinkers, musicians and artists. Some are industry heavy weights, but many of the best are the most obscure. All of them rattled my brain, in both good and frightening ways.

The Xero team had the privilege of spending time with Aarron Walter (director of user experience at Mailchimp) and Jonathan Snook (product manager at Shopify) last week as part of Webstock, which I’ll also summarise in a separate post.

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Xero Profiles

Today we’re releasing a few updates to Xero.

We’ve added Profiles.  Profiles are completely optional but we think they are a great way to promote you and your business online and connect with your existing and new customers.  You can share your specialities, write up a bio, provide contacts details, and links to your other online sites such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook or Linkedin pages.  You choose what information you want to make public and what you want to keep private by going to your new Profile Settings screen in My Xero.

To start, profiles will be found in the Xero Community and online at everyone’s very own unique url on http://profiles.xero.com/people/youchoosethispart.  Then over time you will see them show up in different places across Xero, such as Online Invoicing and Contacts.

If you have ever posted in the Xero Community those public details have automatically been moved across to your new Profile. At anytime you can go to your Profile Setting screen to update the details or turn it off if you no longer wish to have it active.

The ability to embed your Profile in another site as seen in the video is coming in a couple of weeks.

We’ve also updated the way you manage your Xero user account. Now you can manage your account settings, such as your password, on a new screen called Account Settings. You can find this page by clicking your name in the new Xero header and clicking on Account.

A few other things have made it in today’s release, including:

  • Ability to remove access to reports for Standard users
  • Some more Trial Balance exports for TaxACT, Keytime, Taxcalc and Forbes Accounts
  • Smarter transaction splitting in bank reconciliation

For all the details, read our release notes.