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Updated GST return for New Zealand

Posted 7 years ago in Advisors by Xero
Posted by Xero

[Update (27 Nov 2013) – the new GST system did not originally perform the late filing calculation on the first return finalised. This has been altered to use previously published returns if possible. If you still don’t see the  late filing report then no un-filed transactions were found.]

In a few weeks time we will be releasing an updated NZ GST return. The return itself is largely the same but we’ve made it easier to save and manage previous returns and improved performance for larger organisations. It also lays the foundation for a new reconciliation report we will introduce next year.

Anyway, we thought we’d give you an overview of the changes so you’ll be ready to roll for your next return.

Verify your GST details

The first time you access the new GST report you need to confirm some basic information. For most of you, the only missing piece will be the reporting period that is due next. Also, for most of you this will be the current period. Fill this out and you’re good to go.

Xero GST details

Running your next GST return

Once the period closes for a given return, we will create a draft return for you.

Xero GST returns list

Simply click through to the return itself, verify everything’s in order.

Letting you know about unreconciled transactions

We’ve included a new feature which will save you from inadvertently finalising a return before all your data has been processed. A warning will appear if there are any unreconciled statement lines during the period.

Xero GST unreconciled warning

Saving your GST return

It’s good practice to save the final version of each return. While not mandatory, it’s essential if you want Xero to pull in late transactions into the current return (see, Late Filed Transactions below).

Note, you no longer have to publish your returns to be able to run the next one.

Xero GST save final

To see your previously finalised returns there is now a dedicated final returns tab that also groups returns by financial year.

Xero GST final returns

Late filed transactions

Finalising your return lets Xero know what you filed with Inland Revenue and if transactions are back-dated or edited after you file then Xero can offer to include these in future returns, but only if you save as final.

Xero GST late claims

In addition to this report, you can also choose whether to include these transactions in your current return.

Xero GST include late claims

Publishing your GST return

If you do want to publish your return – for example, you are an accountant generating a branded return for your client – you can still do so. There is a brand new publishing page which, in the future, all reports will take advantage of this.

As before, you can control the titles and author for the published report and even see a preview.

Xero GST publish title

You can also control which sections of the report to publish and also the order in which they appear. This is more useful for other types of multi-section reports but the process will ultimately be the same across all Xero reports.

Xero GST publish move

Hey, I don’t see the new GST return

If you have unpaid invoices from prior to the 2010 rate change, you will still see the old return. However, as soon as you pay or write off these invoices, you’ll get all the magic of the new return.

Are we rolling this out for other regions?

Yes, this flow will ultimately be implemented for Australia, UK and US tax returns. However, before we do this we have a number of other reporting improvements to make – improvements that will benefit all regions and that we’ll be talking more about over the next few weeks.

When can I get my hands on all this goodness?

At this stage, we are looking at releasing this in early November. There will be pre-release blogs then as well as online training so keep an eye out.


Heidi Seal
September 26, 2013 at 11.45 am

Cool to see these updates. In my opinion the Xero GST return is already screeds ahead of other software I’ve used but this makes it even better. Thanks!

Berend de Boer
September 26, 2013 at 11.56 am

What we obviously really want is automatic filing. And making/scheduling payments from Xero!

Mark Blundell
September 26, 2013 at 12.03 pm

Believe me, we would love to bring that to you!
However until Inland Revenue build a webservice to allow end users to file their GST electronically from their accounting software – we can’t.
Only your registered tax agent can file electronically using efile through their practice software.

Delwyn Shaw
September 26, 2013 at 6.10 pm

Great news. I agree with Heidi that the GST Report is already great but these changes will make it even better. Thanks.

Philip Bridgen
September 27, 2013 at 5.40 pm

I’m looking forward to these updates to the Xero GST process. In fact, it’s a pity they can’t be implemented before the end of October, which would have meant they were available for the period ended 30th Sept returns. Sorry, I always want really useful updates instantly if not yesterday!

September 27, 2013 at 7.31 pm

Good Post!

Cathy Hurley
September 30, 2013 at 10.02 am

I already file by GST online with IRD but this will make it easier to complete the form. Thanks Xero

Jill C
September 30, 2013 at 10.25 am

Hi there, when I print out my return could the whole thing be on one sheet of paper please.

October 30, 2013 at 2.38 pm

Can you still uplift into Workflow Max on Save as Final. Is it like file/Publish. Ready for filing with IRD.
Like the changes really cool. Can’t wait for GST reconciliation to come out now.

Mark Blundell
October 31, 2013 at 9.53 am

Hi Chris
Yes the Save as Final will be treated the same as an old published return was.

Mark Lawton
November 1, 2013 at 10.26 pm

Good improvents

When you open a draft that Xero has automatically created will any transactions that have been entered after the draft was created automatically be included?

Kylie Filbee
November 6, 2013 at 12.54 pm

Hi guys – love the new features of this, although one concern I have is that not forcing clients to save a final return before moving on to the next one really makes it trickier for us accountants at year end. If they start changing things without having a finalised return in there it makes a real mess of their GST balance. I understand the need to be able to move on to a future return before finalising another one (conversion balances – yuck!) but is there any chance of producing some kind of warning for the clients so they save the last return before moving on to the next one?

Gill Doughty
November 7, 2013 at 10.20 am

Hi there, Am loving Xero and all the updates so far! I would like to see the Statements updated to include aged balances – at the moment the Statement does not list the invoices or the date they were generated which makes chasing those tardy payers harder to nab. Also in the Pay I would love to see some year to date balances to keep track of sick days & holidays etc. Otherwise keep up the good work, Cheers.

Mark Blundell
November 7, 2013 at 10.48 am

We did consider it but what we have found with warnings of this type – they are completely tuned out by clients. Totally sympathise with the issue but warnings have been shown to not work, and just become annoying noise in a workflow.

Our old warning when Unreconciling bank statements which warned people about the transaction being left unless they choose to delete it was ignored so much we had to rebuild how that feature worked completely. Classic case of a warning being ignored.

Best thing will be to explain to your clients that if they finalise their returns, then Xero will pick up any edits or late invoices and include them automatically in the next return. That way by the end of year they should only have unaccounted for transactions in one period, rather than all year long. If it’s explained that it will help prevent GST shocks at year end, it will help them understand why it is useful.

@Mark Lawton
Each time you view a draft it will pull in all transactions that exist at that point, it isn’t a snapshot of when the draft was created.

November 11, 2013 at 11.29 am

When will we be able to use XERO for GST -invoice based?

November 11, 2013 at 1.26 pm

Sorry but some of the GST functionality looks worse! My GST period is 1 Oct to 30 Nov 2013. Before, when I finished October accounts, I would run a draft GST 1 Oct to 31 Oct 2013 and reconcile. Now there is no end date – I get all the early November transactions as well as October, and have to manually work back to end of October. I can’t see a way around this?

Katherine Ward
November 11, 2013 at 1.35 pm

I am concerned that the adjustments for late claims are not automatically pulled through like they used to be. For large clients where these backdate several months, how can we find out a detailed list of what they should be, especially if we do not know how far back to look? Our clients rely on this functionality and it’s disappeared with the new version. Help?

Mark Blundell
November 11, 2013 at 2.38 pm

Not sure I understand your question, we’ve had an invoice basis gst return available for seven years now, you set your invoice or payments basis in either financial settings or the settings area of the new GST return.

I’m sorry to have taken that ability away from you however our focus has been to get GST working as smooth as possible for the regular GST filing periods. However all is not lost, an upcoming release will introduce a report identical to the audit report however with some very power sorting and filtering functionality which will be even better.

The new return still calculates late filing but only on returns that were finalised through it. To catch transactions that were altered after they were filed with IR, you can set the Next Period Due to be a return from a few periods ago and compare the new and old returns. Any net variance can be handled through box 9 or 13 and as soon as you have finalised one return the late filing treatment will return.
Sorry that we are leaving that to you for the first return but to be able to ship this now we needed to compromise that one time change from old return to new.
It will be worth it I assure you. Once transactions are finalised in the new return we will be able to explicitly link you from a transaction in Xero, to the return it was filed in.

November 11, 2013 at 2.50 pm

It’s not clear to me how to add expenses paid by cash to GST

Katherine Ward
November 12, 2013 at 9.13 am

How do we know that the net variance arising from the above procedure is valid – as far as I understand it, we cannot identify the individual line items that make up the variance. We do actually have some large clients with many adjustments for late claims, some of which may be invalid or need correction. Whilst we are in the process of working with these clients to tidy up their records and bring them up-to-date, so we can use locked periods for example to avoid this problem, but as far as I am aware, this issue was not advised to Xero customers in advance of the new GST roll-out otherwise we could have run the GST adjustments report prior to the roll-out.
What are we supposed to tell IRD auditors or our client auditors when they ask what makes up the net variance?! When I run a journal report it doesn’t appear to be sortable by “date posted”, which would enable us to sort all journals by date posted since the last GST return was published – any relating to the previous GST return periods would then be evident and we would have the breakdown of the adjustment. Advice please on how we can get this information.

November 12, 2013 at 11.12 am

@mark & Katherine.
This is a real issue. I hadn’t looked at the new GST return as I was waiting until I had one due but have just been recoding a clients bank transactions that GST was claimed when it shouldn’t have been and thinking that it was going to be picked up on the next return and have now realised though this blog that it won’t until I’ve file a GST return under the new format. I think this needs to raised with people as not everyone is going to read the blog and GST reconciliation will be an issue.

November 13, 2013 at 4.18 pm

@Mark, Katherine and Rachel
Agree that this is a major for those in public practice. GST reconciliation will be an issue for most people who do not realise that the new and old systems do not speak to each other. As far as I can see, year end adjustments will now not automatically get picked up in the next GST Return unless a dummy return is finalised in Xero covering the year end period prior to any adjustments being made. It is concerning that there is no warning or advice on this.

Sandra Hunter
November 13, 2013 at 9.58 pm

I have a client on an “odd month” GST basis as their year end is 31 December. When I go to complete their GST details for the change over I cannot fill in their “Next period due” as 1 Nov to 31 Dec 2013 is not on the drop down option list. Is this an oversight?

Mark Blundell
November 14, 2013 at 10.00 am

Hi all, we are working on a means of getting the late filing working on the first return of the new return (it works for all subsequent returns already) but it’s an extremely difficult task because of limits in the old return. If we are able to achieve it working reliably we will look to release that in the next week or so.

In the meantime you can set your next period due to be in the past and do a like for like comparison between the new and old returns, and include any variances as a box 9 or 13 adjustment in your new return.

Bill McGeown
November 14, 2013 at 12.37 pm

@ Mark This is a pretty poor work around. Unless I’m misreading this, effectively we will have to go back and manually check every single return in Xero to make sure nothing gets missed. I definitely am not looking forward to going back over 4 years worth of returns.

This also means that either we will have a bunch of draft returns sitting in the GST return area, or we finalise them and effectively have double ups of the same return in Xero. This also doesn’t actually tell us what was late or changed, just the figures, unless we manually check both returns.

The prior returns also don’t pull in the adjustments from published returns, so those have to be manually entered.

Is there any way that we can revert to the old system until this is corrected? As far as I can see, there is zero benefit to this new system over the old one, and just a lot more work to make things right. The new returns also seems a lot slower to load, though that could just be on my end.

Bill McGeown
November 14, 2013 at 4.36 pm

While my initial concerns about double ups of reports is not founded, the problem of trying to manage late claims is actually worse than I thought.

Whoever okayed the decision to ship this update with this problem should really have looked at how this was going to impact users more. To even get the figures I need is going to take at least a day to composite all the old and new reports and compare them. Even then, without knowing exactly what the late claims are, I can’t guarantee it’s accurate in anyway. This leaves us exposed during our annual audits.

The fact that there is zero benefit to users with this update, while bringing with it this known issue, does not give me the best impression of Xero’s ability to make a judgement call on a release decision. Mark’s statement above about “to be able to ship this now we needed to compromise” seems to me that this was obviously not a decision based on user experience, but resources and timing. Releasing an update with no benefit to users with such an known flaw makes no sense to me at all. The fact that there was no information of this issue in either the release notes, or release blog, also doesn’t fill me with confidence.

November 15, 2013 at 3.37 pm

A simple but effective workaround for issue of prior period entries is to Copy & Edit then save an already published GST report. Change to the dates to the current period and use that as the check point to compare to the first GST Report being done under the new system. All figures apart from the Adjustments should be the same. By keeping both you can be assured there’s a clean transition.

November 15, 2013 at 3.40 pm

Would be useful to have the “old” GST reporting available, perhaps as an Adviser only report, as having flexible date ranges is useful when attempting to untangle the records of new clients with screeds of old transactions.

November 23, 2013 at 1.58 pm

The first thing I noticed with the new GST Returns is all my old returns have appeared in Due Now. These have all been previously published, and all I seem to be able to do with this new list is Save Draft, so they are not going away.

I haven’t discovered a workaround yet… anyone?

November 25, 2013 at 4.07 pm

I have the same problem of Rob’s. Our two months for GST return is different to go with our financial end date of 30 June. Have the same problem of due now for previous returns but with different return periods. I have filed previous returns and published them too. They are still there in published reports. Need some help to submit the return for the period Sep-Oct before 28th November. Can someone help me please?

Mark Blundell
November 25, 2013 at 4.27 pm

@ Rob @Tamara.
The “Next Period Due” setting is used to create draft returns from the date you set, to today. If you set it back in the past then the system is going to create a lot of returns. If you wish to finalise these then you certainly can, but you can choose your current period which will just give you what you need. You are not obliged to choose a date a long time in the past.

For others reading we have nearly completed the work required to get late filing running on the first return, using the old style gst to give us our reference point. We will advise when that is released, which will hopefully be this week.

Katherine Ward
November 28, 2013 at 9.20 am

Thank you Xero for fixing this problem. It is good to know you have listened to our concerns and taken action. Xero has notified us that late claims will now bring through adjustments into the first return in the new GST system. The fix is a little late for our clients with GST due date of today. We had been able to work this out manually for our clients by exporting the journal report to Excel sorted by ID and checking the journals dated in previous returns, but it was very time-consuming and technically difficult for anyone that isn’t an accountant. Please test/consult user impact for any new updates in future prior to roll-out. We need to be able to trust Xero to get this right if we are to continue recommending Xero to our clients.

Bill McGeown
November 28, 2013 at 10.56 am

While I thank Xero for “fixing” this current issue, I have actually found another issue. The GST report is incorrect on Box 11 when transactions with 12.5% GST in the period are concerned. The older report split this into the adjustments part, however in the new report the 12.5% GST is lumped into box 12 along with the 15% transaction amounts, and then box 11 is calculated on the box 12 figure in the assumption that all GST is 15%, rather than being the actual gross amount in the period. While this doesn’t actually affect the amount of GST to pay/refund figure which is correct, this essentially means that if someone copied the form directly and did not manually check the gross amounts, the form is incorrect. To combat this, you essentially need to use the old form’s figures.

I echo Katherine’s sentiments on this whole thing. This should never have been released in the state it was, and fixing it one day before the next round of GST is due is really not suitable. The work around suggested by Charles to get into the old report solved the issue of a lot of the manual work, but that this was a user suggested work around, rather than from Xero is concerning to say the least. That there is still an issue with the GST report being incorrect, along with this whole saga, tells me that there was not enough testing or Q&A work done on this, and it was rushed to be completed to a timeline. “Compromising” the report to ship on time, as stated by Mark, is quite unacceptable, especially where GST and associated reporting is concerned.

Mark Blundell
November 29, 2013 at 10.52 am

Hello Bill

Appreciate your concerns here. Having all 12.5% transactions handled as an adjustment was confusing for customers with many not wanting to show what appeared to be a very large prior period adjustment on their return. As I’m sure you are aware, adjustments over $500 attract more attention with Inland Revenue and many people do not wish to have regular in-period transactions showing as though they are large amendments to prior periods. Breaking 12.5% out created more work for many people, more support tickets for Xero, and given 12.5% transactions are rapidly reducing in volume, we decided that it wasn’t adding enough value to include that treatment in the new return. As you have noted, the value of GST paid is absolutely correct.

People who use non-standard rates for partial input recovery or long term domestic rentals have never had these transactions handled as a special case and there is no guidance on how they would be handled, this now brings consistency to the return.

As to the late claims not working on day one, this generally isn’t the Xero way. Our belief was that most people would still follow good coding practices and that late claims were a minority use case for most people. It turns out that because the late claims system worked so well, people have modified their behaviour and become much more relaxed about recoding transactions.

Could this release have been better? Yes. But overall the improvements made are beneficial to people doing GST in Xero.
* The new return will always display values as positive so that they are ready to be transcribed directly and we are also ready when IR enable online filing.
* The new late claims report only shows late transactions which have a material GST impact rather than being all prior period transactions. This makes it far easier to spot what has been edited or voided in the past.
* Clients can’t delete single returns out of sequence which made late filing unreliable.
* You are not forced to publish the return now, so you can keep the published reports area cleaner and more focused while still retaining clear GST records.
* Columns on the audit report allow sorting now which makes it far easier to quickly check the types of accounts and tax treatments applied to transactions.
* There is a warning if there are unreconciled transactions which in the past many partners have requested we add.
* The pagination on the audit report is lightening quick now compared to our old audit report.
* The return runs an order of magnitude quicker for organisations with more than two thousand transactions per filing period. Our old return was struggling.
* The new process steers people to only address the return which is due and has clear language around when it will be due. It reduces errors.
* It lays the foundation for a GST rec report which can handle the late claims system where our current one does not. In my opinion the release is worth it for this alone.
* It looks cleaner and highlights the important information better.

Bryan White
March 27, 2014 at 4.10 pm

I don’t like the fact that GST is not calculated properly (it is not 15% of total Income), and also that the ‘Total Taxable Supplies’ is not the sum of any transactions, but back-calculated from the (incorrect) GST figure.
Example: total Gross Income (from Audit Report) = $76,584.71
GST = $9,989.30 (wrong; it’s exactly $9,989.31)
GST Report ‘Total sales and income'[5] & ‘Net GST sales and income'[7] = $76,584.63
Apparently, it’s designed to be inaccurate!

February 6, 2015 at 12.08 pm


When we have finalised the GST in XERO, why don’t the “GST payment due” appear in the purchase list, so the payment could be planned? In addition, in the list of GST Final returns, all the status are “XXX.XX to pay”, instead of several status “To pay” and “paid”.
This function might exist and I have used Xero properly.
Thank you if you could come back to me.


Bevan Abraham
May 15, 2015 at 4.27 pm

Is there anyway to have a look at past xero gst’s reports to organize the filing for late gst returns. It only shows the current returns and not previous returns if you haven’t logged them in xero. I am behind in my gst returns and I’m currently trying to work through and bring them up to date. I’ve only been able to lodge my latest gst return.

Mark Blundell
May 18, 2015 at 11.08 am

Hi Bevan, not quite sure what you are describing there, but best to log a ticket with, they will be able to sort you out pronto.

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