Kirsten Norman is a BAS agent, business innovator and owner of Biz Whiz Business Solutions, and Xero’s Victoria Bookkeeping Partner of the Year 2017.
Every quarter, six million business activity statements are lodged, with 50% lodged by tax or BAS agents in Australia. That’s a whole lot of BAS.
So it’s no surprise that the ability to lodge returns direct to the ATO via Xero Business Edition directly in a client’s file has been a highly requested feature from small business owners and the Xero partner community alike.
It was previewed recently, at the Xero Australia Roadshow, and I welcome it with open arms.
The value of a BAS agent
I know that my clients all currently have the ability to lodge their BAS themselves via the ATO portal or send a paper copy to the ATO. They don’t pay me to hit ‘Lodge’ – they don’t need a BAS agent for that. They engage me so they know an expert has:
- made sure all transactions are accounted for and the banking is reconciled
- audited allocations of transactions where the business owner is doing their own coding to ensure they are correct
- dealt with ATO in regards to any queries, audits and amendments
- provided assistance with cash flow, such as offering the lodgement extension time we get as agents, should the business require it.
Lodgement history at your fingertips
Many small businesses go through the onerous task of filling in a paper-based form and posting it to the ATO each month or quarter. Not only do they often they struggle with what to put where on the form, but there are times when we all get our numbers around the wrong way. We’re human after all.
How wonderful not to have to log into the portal to retrieve this information. And how irritating, once logged in, to find it doesn’t match what’s in their accounting system! Having all the information and the full history of lodgements saved in Xero Business Edition not only benefits businesses directly, it saves time for the BAS/TAX agents who support them.
For those business owners who have advanced to have their own portal access AUSkey, the problem still remains: manual entry of data is fraught with risk.
Small businesses retain the control they want
Many business owners like to pay their own bills, fill in their own forms, and even write their own cheques so they know they’re in control. Lodging their own BAS falls into this category, but that doesn’t negate the need for preparation.
Not many business owners I know are reconciling bank statements or doing a GST audit and balance sheet reconciliation to make sure their BAS is correct. Most of them got into business to spend time pursuing their passion, and that’s where they focus their energy.
In fact, during one announcement during a Xerocon 2017 event, Xero said almost 80 million transactions had been recoded by advisors using the find and recode feature since April 2015. In my opinion, this proves how vital it is to have a professional review the figures prior to lodgement.
Xero has revolutionised the way we do business and made the lives of many business owners and the BAS agents who support them simply better. It is only to be expected that they continue to make our lives and the lives of business owners easier by introducing more time-saving efficiencies and further helpful features into the software. That’s what I love about Xero.
People pay me for value in my expertise and guidance, not for pushing a button. And, as small businesses attempt to embrace new technology, that guidance is needed more now than ever before.