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Lodge activity statements with Xero is live for partners!

Posted 4 years ago in Advisors by Tim Wright
Posted by Tim Wright

With Xero, you’re now able to lodge activity statements directly to the Australian Tax Office in your practice organisation and any client subscriptions that you’re invited in to.

Every quarter, six million business activity statements are lodged in Australia, with 50% lodged by tax or BAS agents, and 30% on paper forms. That’s a whole lot of BAS.

So it’s no surprise that being able to lodge activity statements to the ATO directly from Xero has been high on the request list from small business owners and the Xero partner community alike.

Currently, Xero partners (BAS agents and tax agents) can use Xero Tax to lodge activity statements or manually re-enter information from Xero into a form, either through the ATO portal, using alternative software, or filling in a paper form. This is time-consuming, as it requires double handling of data and the need for multiple systems. Lodging activity statements with Xero will make the process easier by eliminating the need to rekey data or submit paper forms; it will minimise errors and save time.

Here’s how it will work.

With this new feature comes a new user permission setting: Submit BAS. Only users with this permission will be able to lodge activity statements. For all users, the default setting will be ‘off’.  The right to submit BAS will ultimately be controlled by the subscriber.

The next stage of the rollout will see the feature turned on for all subscriptions without a partner invited in.

Here’s what some of our accounting and bookkeeping partners have to say about lodging activity statements with Xero:

Lodging BAS straight from the Activity Statement in Xero is absolutely awesome. No re-entering of data and no hassle of finding any ATO login details. It means I don’t dread doing it and get it lodged earlier.” – Alexander Kohl, Promis

“Take a bow, it was awesome. Pressed a couple of buttons and it was successfully lodged straight away. Definitely want it for all our clients”  – Peter Di Tommaso

“The lodging of BASs from Xero has been very easy & worked as expected. I will certainly continue to use the feature, and look forward to rolling it out to our clients that use Xero and prepare their own BASs.” – Ben Kurtz, Nortons Business Advisors

22 comments

Ray
September 6, 2018 at 2.45 pm

How much extra is it going to cost?

Tim Wright in reply to Ray
September 12, 2018 at 2.23 pm

@Ray there’s no extra cost.

Lodging Activity Statements with Xero will be made available in Australian Xero Business edition plans, including trials (and for partners, the Australian GST cashbook partner edition plan and free Practice edition as well) as part of the subscription value.

I’m afraid we won’t be able to offer it in the Demo Company though.
The Demo Company is a fictitious Xero organisation we provide to test out Xero features for yourself with sample data, or data you add. As such it can’t be used to connect to real life live ATO systems required for lodging a businesses activity statements from software.

Lucy
September 20, 2018 at 6.17 pm

Is there an estimated date or timeframe for the general release?

Tim Wright in reply to Lucy
September 24, 2018 at 11.55 pm

@Lucy We’ve had some strong interest from our partners to have access and do some lodgments – if all goes well we’d be hoping mid to late October we can make it generally available to everyone.

Edwin Arenas
October 10, 2018 at 11.59 am

Is this already available? If so, can you please advise how we turn this on for a client.

Tim Wright in reply to Edwin Arenas
October 15, 2018 at 6.23 pm

@edwin – noting you refer to a client makes me think you are an accountant or bookkeeper and if I’ve got that right, yes this is available to partners now.
Details of how you can access it for either yourself or for a client is in the blog. Check it out and get in touch if you want to.
We’ve a number of partners with access now and people doing lodgments. We’d still like more lodgments to be completed by partners before we make it generally available to everyone, hopefully soon!

Doug Booth
November 14, 2018 at 6.25 pm

There doesn’t seem to be any declaration from the client to authorise us as tax agents to lodge the statement. We would need this to adhere to requirements.

Tim Wright in reply to Doug Booth
November 14, 2018 at 11.18 pm

@Doug, This is a super comment and it’s great to be able to talk about it…thanks for raising.
Yes, you’re quite right that prior to lodging online for a client, an agent is required to obtain a client declaration. The ATO give clear guidance on what this is and the various forms it can take. Some might want to use an email. You can send the PDF of the BAS to the client requesting approval and client can return a suitable declaration and you can then file.
Some might prefer an integrated electronic workflow, so Ask in Xero HQ could be used, or for those with lots of clients or wanting a more advanced workflow Xero Tax has integrated esign available: https://www.xero.com/au/features-and-tools/practice-tools/tax/esign/
Other options for obtaining an electronic signature are available to be used for the Lodge Activity Statements with Xero as well.
full details are on the options and requirements for client declaration is on the ATO website: https://www.ato.gov.au/tax-professionals/prepare-and-lodge/managing-your-lodgment-program/client-declarations-and-lodgment-online/.
The new Lodge Activity Statements in Xero can be used by agents and agents can use several options to meet client declaration requirements. There are several options to meet the requirements and plenty of choice. There’s plenty of scope for us to be able to continue to enhance this solution and develop great features for partners/agents too, including approvals workflows and client authorisations/declarations to name a few.

Simon Kovac
November 14, 2018 at 6.32 pm

For those clients that lodge their own BAS, normally via the business portal or paper, can they only use this function by having our Tax Agent details entered into their settings? If so, does the tax office view the BAS as being lodged by the client or the tax agent?

Tim Wright in reply to Simon Kovac
November 14, 2018 at 11.00 pm

@simon – for clients who do their own lodgments (they are not a Xero partner with a BAS or Tax agent number) – they will not enter or be able to enter agent details, so in this situation the ATO would view lodgments as being from the business by the business with no agent involve. For partners that do lodgements, they will need to enter their BAS/Tax Agent number in order to be able to lodge (or get client information too) and the ATO would receive this as a lodgement by an agent for a business (providing an agent service). The ATO check the client relationship exists between the agent and the client, if it does lodgments will be fine. If not, the agent <-> client relationship will need to be established with the ATO before lodgments (or other client requests from software) will go through. THis is the same as with STP (Single Touch Payroll too)

Kelvin
November 14, 2018 at 7.18 pm

With the new features, can a business owner lodge BAS directly to ATO through Xero? Thanks!

Tim Wright in reply to Kelvin
November 14, 2018 at 10.36 pm

@Kevin, Yes, if a Xero partner is invited to their Xero organisation, business owners and partners can lodge the BAS. We’ll enable this feature for Xero organisations that do not have a Partner invited in coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Rachel
November 14, 2018 at 7.41 pm

I see a whole lot of businesses going ahead pressing buttons and lodging BAS returns with GST on everything from Insurance to Interest in our future. It’s a great function for the BAS Agent who needs to rely on the portal for lodgement instead of something like Practice Manager or Gov Reports but doesn’t mean that the business owner know anything more about GST .

Tim Wright in reply to Rachel
November 14, 2018 at 11.33 pm

@Rachel, oh yes, whole heartedly agree. I couldn’t tell for sure but it sounds like you’re a Xero partner or BAS/Tax agent.
Businesses today lodge their own BAS , many still on paper!
The value a Bookkeeper or Accountant (or more precisely a BAS or Tax Agent) provides is far more than a metaphorical ‘postal service’ for lodging BAS for a client. We all know its far more than that.
Reading your comment reminds me of a couple of excellent blogs that for me really reinforce the value bookkeepers and accountants can provide.
Kirsten Allen of Biz Whiz Business Solutions wrote earlier this year: https://www.xero.com/blog/2018/02/clients-value-prepare-bas/
Don Grgic from Business Boost Centre just more recently: https://www.xero.com/blog/2018/10/dont-call-me-a-bookkeeper/
The common theme is that it’s all about helping businesses thrive and be successful. The opportunity is to show the value you can provide to businesses. You’ll find no greater fans, advocates and champions for you, the whole accounting community and small businesses, than us here at Xero!

Wallace Ng
November 15, 2018 at 10.50 am

This is awesome!

If published/lodged BAS’s could automatically push to a purchase bill in Xero, that would be next level! Payments to the ATO would simply be allocated to a bill and this would make Bank + GST reconciliations that much easier.

Tim Wright in reply to Wallace Ng
November 15, 2018 at 10.30 pm

@Wallace; Yes, it certainly would. Don’t want to give too much away too soon, but this is along the lines of some our ‘next thing’ thinking.
Wouldn’t it be great too, if you could click a button (or schedule) to make the actual payment to the ATO, all from Xero.
Stay tuned.. 😉

Jill Hoadley
November 15, 2018 at 6.23 pm

Hi Tim

We already use Xero Tax to send Activity statements for review and then to clients to e-sign before lodging. Tax gives us good follow up and lodgment control ‘in one place’ each quarter for all BAS clients.

Is there or will there be improvements to cross integrate the two, to save ‘importing the BAS’ from Blue Xero into Xero Tax?

Is there any way for BAS returns lodged in Blue Xero to appear in Xero Tax?

Tim Wright in reply to Jill Hoadley
November 15, 2018 at 11.28 pm

@Jill; Xero Tax is amazing and it’s been equally amazing for me to see that thing I started way back in 2011/12 reach such heights! Back then Xero in Melbourne were working out of an ex-security building in Hawthorn and we’d just released integrated payroll with Xero…how things have grown.

The Lodge Activity Statement feature in Xero doesn’t intend to compete with the full workfow and super deep features in Xero Tax, people that enjoy it should continue to use it!

You’re quite right, there’s a host of opportunities for us to deliver even more effiiency and accuracy in the BAS workflow; prepare, review, approve, lodge and pay.
What if there was one Activity Statement in Xero, regardless of whether people are using Xero Tax or Xero Business/Partner edition plans to manage their workflow? Do as much, or as little, as you like in any one product, because it’s just part of the broader platform and it all works together.

There’s so much more we can do, and whilst these things are not imminent – they are in our thinking and we’d love to do them for you.

Geoff
November 22, 2018 at 12.27 pm

HI Tim,

Really looking forward to this feature! Do you have an update on when it will be available in Xero (non-Partner)?

I also second Wallace’s comment above; automatic creation of an ATO bill would be next-level!

Tim Wright in reply to Geoff
November 22, 2018 at 1.42 pm

@Doran – For organisations with no partner attached, hopefully in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

kristal
January 31, 2019 at 6.41 pm

If I go ahead and authorise xero to lodge my BAS will the ATO have access to any other information on xero? Or will they only receive the data of the usual questions in the BAS? (income, GST on income, tax with held for employees…etc.)

Tim Wright in reply to kristal
January 31, 2019 at 7.47 pm

@kristal,
The ATO will only receive the BAS return data you send them from Xero.
It’s really the same data your sending from Xero that you’d be rekeying to the portal, or transcribing to the paper form to send to the ATO.
We are not sending the ATO supplementary data or other information and the ATO cannot take data from your Xero subscription with the authorisation.
Hope that helps clarify and gives you confidence.

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