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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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Provoke Solutions goes global with Xero

Guest post by Catherine Fitzgerald, Project Manager, Provoke Solutions

New Zealand software development and online experience consultancy, Provoke Solutions, began in 2001 as a start-up with one office in Wellington, a vision for greatness and a clunky accounting package. Now with five offices on three continents, Xero have helped us go global.

Provoke Solutions

Out with the old, in with the Xero

Following the opening of our Auckland office in 2007, we came to realize that our bulky accounting product, designed for large organizations and multi-nationals of 500+ employees, proved more a hindrance than a help. It was neither easy to administer nor simple to customize. We needed an accounting solution that would better meet our needs.

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Self-paced learning for Accountants and Bookkeepers

Update:  Self-paced learning is now available for US and Australian accountant and bookkeeper partners as well. Rest of world soon to follow!

 Accountants and bookkeepers can now experience self-paced e-learning inside Xero. The new Training tab in My Xero for Partners is now available, where accountants and bookkeepers can learn online about Xero at their own pace – anywhere, anytime.

This exciting release will be rolled out for the UK and NZ editions of Xero, followed by the US and Australia, and comes after last month’s launch of Xero U, which brings live training events like webinars and classroom courses together in one place at

More than ever, we’re on the move and we’re busy, and not everyone in your accounting practice is on the same schedule. Self-paced learning will enable your practice staff to become certified Xero experts,  complete other courses, and monitor training progress to continue growing and accelerating your practice.

Check out our video to see how it works!



What the Official Cash Rate (OCR) rise means to New Zealand small businesses

As many economists predicted, the New Zealand Reserve Bank has raised the Official Cash Rate (OCR) by 0.25% today. The OCR was originally 2.5% and is now 2.75%. By the end of 2016, economists expect the OCR to be between 4% and 5%, as the Reserve Bank tries to limit inflation by lifting interest rates.

Rising house prices, increasing immigration and booming construction activity are all creating a lot of the inflation pressures. This pressure is being slightly eased by the high exchange rate on the kiwi dollar.

What does this mean for owners of small to medium enterprises (SMEs)?

We talked to Lisa Martin, Managing Director of GoFi8ure and Vice President of NZBAI (also winner of Bookkeeper of the Year at the Xero Partner Awards 2014) about what the Official Cash Rate means to New Zealand small businesses.

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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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Farming in the cloud – New Zealand

Farming in the cloud presented at Xerocon

At Xerocon, Auckland we were excited to unveil Farming in the Cloud, which will be ready later this year in New Zealand. This connection with our farming partners will deliver real-time, single ledger reporting to farms for the first time – and it’ll be great for our accounting partners with farming clients.

The solution allows farmers and their accountants, banks and rural service companies to work together from the same set of online, real-time data, and will provide one centralised home for accounting and farm management tools.

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US Payroll – what we’re working on

US Payroll team at Xero

The launch of US Payroll in December was a huge milestone for Xero, but the launch was just the first of many steps to deliver the ultimate payroll feature – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There are always bumps in the road, but our team is focused on developing the most important features and delivering the best possible customer experience.

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