Two of Australia’s newest billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar have become wealthy because they created software that enables companies like MYOB manage a team of developers, designers and analysts in the pursuit of continuously adding enhancements, updating the software, fixing bugs and providing support for their MYOB Tax software via their company Atlassian, but I digress.
THE DEFINITION OF a training course has changed a lot over the last 20 years. With new online internet technologies comes new ways of learning. The concept of the “micro course” is gaining momentum as students look for information when they need it, known in the industry as “just in time learning”.
There are lots of time and cost pressures for students as they juggle part-time work, kids and mortgage payments. As a result, we’re launching a brand new Online Training Service for past EzyLearn students AND new students — EzyLearn’s Video Training Library Membership.
One thing is essential when you operate a small business with staff — that is your payroll obligations. I wrote about a hairdressing salon owner a few months ago who told me how easy payroll was to manage using a printed timesheet book. However, most tech-savvy people prefer to use software.
Education is obviously something we think is very important, whether you’re changing careers, starting a new business, or looking to upskill for a promotion. But what about education to keep your current job? The Australian Government thinks that’s equally important, especially for BAS and tax agents.
In March this year, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) changed their renewal process to now include continuing professional education (CPE) as a mandatory for all registrations after July 1, 2016. Between now and June 30, 2016, it’s sufficient for BAS and tax agents to merely show they have read and understood the new CPE policy to renew their registration, but this arrangement can only be used once; moving forward those BAS and tax agents will still need to complete further education to register again as a BAS or tax agent the in the future.
Are You a Currently a BAS or Tax agent?
Over the last few years, the Government has introduced a lot of new measures that BAS and tax agents have had to comply with in order to continue to offer their services to clients, namely the changes in 2010 that made it mandatory for all BAS and tax agents to hold a minimum qualification of a Cert IV in bookkeeping.
The new CPE requirement could seem like just another measure that BAS and tax agents need to comply with just to be able to keep their jobs. It’s not. CPE has been introduced to ensure that BAS and tax agents continue to understand, not just their own industry – that of tax and finance – but also how other industries are changing too.
There are more people leaving their jobs as employees and starting to work for themselves as consultants and freelancers and contract workers, across a wide array of industries. Marketing professionals, for example, no longer simply come up with marketing hooks for companies; they also have to understand how to create websites and how SEO works and social media. In some cases, they even become unofficial spokespeople and sales reps for the companies they’re consulting with, leveraging their contacts on their clients’ behalf.
CPE makes BAS and tax agents more valuable, not less
This vastly complicates a marketing professional’s tax if that marketing professional’s job now encompasses the roles of several other professions within it. Similar changes have been observed in bookkeeping, with registered BAS and tax agents now providing more operational and administrative-type services, in addition to just bookkeeping.
The point, then, of CPE is not to make it more difficult for tax and BAS agents to renew their registration with the TPB, but to help tax and BAS agents to remain as highly skilled as they’ve ever been, in an ever-changing labour market. And the better skilled you are as a BAS and tax agent, particularly those self-employed BAS and tax agents, the more value you’ll be able to provide your clients, and the more work you’ll get from them in return.
To learn more about continuing professional education for bookkeepers, visit the TPB website. Otherwise, to read more about bookkeeping, particularly starting your own bookkeeping business, continue reading our blog.
Are you a Writer and Want to Work from Home Blogging for Businesses?
Enrol into the Blogging for Business Course now and take advantage of it’s current cheap price. We’ll soon be adding real life exercises where blogging students will be asked to create content and have it edited and published so they can participate in a real world business blogging project!
For a while there it looked like the ATO would introduce single touch payroll for all Australian businesses by July 2016, but after feedback from the businesses community that original plan has been shelved – for now. With SuperStream simplifying the way businesses manage the superannuation contributions for their employees, it’s highly likely that we’ll be seeing some form of the single touch payroll model in the near future.
Single touch payroll was an initiative developed to simplify the payroll process for Australian businesses. Currently, most businesses are burdened with a number of tax and superannuation reporting obligations, which single touch payroll would have put an end to.
What exactly was single touch payroll?
Single touch payroll, like SuperStream, was a proposed interactive tool that would allow a business’s accounting software to automatically report payroll information for their employees to the the tax office, eliminating the need for businesses to report pay-as-you-go withholding (PAYGW) in their activity statements throughout the year, as well as end-of-year employee payment summaries.
There was also a proposed digital service that would have streamlined tax file number declarations and Super Choice forms, which would obviously reduce a lot of the red tape and paperwork associated with employing staff.
Single touch payroll would have integrated with nearly all accounting packages in Australia, including MYOB, Xero and Quickbooks, just as SuperStream does now, so why was it shelved by the ATO until further consultation with the business community?
Single touch could have caused cash flow problems
The main concern for many businesses was that single touch payroll would impact their cash flow by requiring employers to pay the tax withheld from wages and super guarantee payments at the same time they paid their employees’ wages. There were also concerns about whether compliance by July 2016 was realistically achievable for the majority of businesses, especially when the SuperStream changeover is still ongoing.
For businesses with a substantial number of employees, single touch payroll could have been a godsend. Unfortunately, the original proposal alienated smaller businesses by making it necessary to pay both tax and super guarantee payments at the same time as employee wages, when most employers currently make those payments to the ATO each quarter.
But that doesn’t mean the single touch payroll system has been scrapped altogether. The ATO, in consultation with industry groups and the Minister for Small Business, is working on developing another single touch payroll scheme that will make real-time payments for withholding and super guarantee payments voluntary, which will be tested with small business owners before it’s rolled out across the board.
There’s still life in single touch payroll yet
What single touch payroll really highlights is how important it is for small businesses to make sure that they’re using a current accounting software package – and there are many on the market, developed especially for small businesses – that supports SuperStream and will also support any other ATO initiatives, like single touch payroll.
You can read more about SuperStream and the new measures the ATO has introduced to make payroll and superannuation compliance easier for small businesses by subscribing to our blog. Alternatively, if you’re a small business owner using either Xero or MYOB and you’d like to know how to properly setup and use payroll in your accounting software, enrol in one of our MYOB or Xero training courses today.
Does SuperStream streamline superannuation payments?
If you’re a small business with nineteen or fewer employees, then come July 1 this year you’ll need to begin making superannuation contributions for your staff using SuperStream, the government reform introduced last year to improve the efficiency of Australia’s superannuation system.
The purpose of SuperStream is to ensure employer contributions are paid in a consistent and timely manner, while also setting a common standard for how super contributions should be managed, which had previously been lacking from legislation relating to superannuation contributions. Medium-large businesses with more than twenty employees have been able to use SuperStream since July 1 last year and have until June 30 this year to become compliant. From July 1 this year, small businesses with nineteen or fewer employees will until June 30 2016 to meet the SuperStream requirements for their business.
What’s the benefit to employers?
Prior to the reforms, there was no standard for making super contributions. This meant that employers could choose to make superannuation contributions as frequently or infrequently as they liked, providing they made them at some point over a the course of an employee’s employment with them. SuperStream now makes regular contributions mandatory and easy to comply with. Other benefits to employers include:
The opportunity to use a single channel when dealing with super funds, regardless of how many funds your employees contribute to
Reducing the time spent dealing with employee data issues and fund queries
Offering greater automation and reduced cost of processing contributions and payments
More timely flow of information and money in meeting your superannuation obligations.
What measures will businesses need to adopt to use SuperStream?
Businesses can use software that conforms to SuperStream requirements – MYOB released a software update for most of its products, which is SuperStream compliant, for instance – or a provider who can meet the SuperStream requirements on their behalf. The ATO recommends investigating the following options:
Upgrading payroll software
Using an outsourced payroll function or service provider
Using a commercial clearing house or the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House (for businesses with fewer than twenty employees).
If you employ contractors to work for you, either on a one-off or ongoing basis, you will still need to make super contributions on their behalf, which means you’ll also need to make sure you’re compliant with the SuperStream requirements. You’ll need to make superannuation contributions to a contractor if they have a contract with your business where:
The contract is wholly for labour and skills
They perform the work personally
They are paid for the number of hours worked
In this case, they’re considered an employee for the purposes of the superannuation guarantee, so you’ll need to ensure you’re also compliant with SuperStream, even if that contractor has an ABN and invoices you.
You won’t have to pay the superannuation guarantee for a contractor if the person is hired to complete a specific task for which they are paid to complete only, and they are responsible for fixing any defects to the work.
If you hire contractors to provide mainly labour services on a regular basis, where they are paid for the time they spend working, rather than on a project basis, for the purpose of SuperStream, they will be counted as employees. If you have more than twenty contractors that fit this description, you need to ensure you’re compliant wit SuperStream by June 30 this year; if you’ve fewer than twenty, you have until June 30 2016 to become SuperStream compliant.
It’s a good idea to review the SuperStream section of the ATO’s website for more information on SuperStream or visit the section on contractors if you’re unsure whether you should be making super contribution on your contractor’s behalf.
Saasu recently announced a new partnership with Westpac bank to deliver direct bank feeds to Saasu and Westpac customers, including those with St George business accounts. Among the new features, the Westpac/Saasu partnership promises ‘real-time insight into cash-flow with online invoices, expenses, banking, budgets, payroll, inventory and financial reports.’
As a St George customer, one of our team members was interested in what this new partnership would mean for Saasu customers, and even wondered whether it would be worthwhile making the switch from MYOB, given Saasu’s relatively cheap offering of cloud-accounting software.
SAASU could easily replace Reach Accounting
I recently wrote of the sad news of Reach Accounting software shutting down and there might be some good news for independent contractors who operate their own business. SAASU – a privately owned Australian company has a $15 per month plan aimed at helping small business manage their bookkeeping in the cloud with cheap accounting software.
Direct bank feeds without the use of third-party providers
What I discovered was promising. For Westpac customers, the partnership brings the ability for Saasu to provide direct bank feeds for free, without the use of a third-party provider, which so many other cloud-accounting platforms use – even MYOB utilises BankLink, for example. For non-Westpac customers, little will change in terms of bank feeds; Saasu will continue to utilise the services of Yodlee for bank feeds just like Xero and Zoho.
Bank feeds eliminate nearly all of the data entry associated with bookkeeping, and they’ve been a revolution for small business owners and bookkeepers alike. As the most time-consuming, yet crucial, part of the bookkeeping process, automatic bank feeds, which pull your bank transactions into your accounting software, allow BAS agents to get on with actually preparing a client’s BAS, while business owners have an up-to-date picture of what’s happening with their cash-flow as it’s happening.
Bank feeds are changing the role of the bookkeeper
Note that I’ve mentioned BAS agent, rather than bookkeeper. Technically, the BAS agent I’m talking about is a bookkeeper, but with bank feeds now pretty well commonplace among most cloud-accounting apps, there’s really no need for them to engage in that tedious data entry process, freeing them up to take on more clients and earn more money.
So will our team member be switching to Saasu? No, not just yet. The latest Westpac partnership is promising and our independent contractor certainly liked the pricing, but Saasu lacks one major feature that our independent contractor couldn’t live without: a mobile app, or at least a well-functioning one. The current Saasu app hasn’t been updated since 2011, and doesn’t work on an iPhone running IOS 5 or higher, so despite the volume of small businesses that invoice from the road (think: tradies), Saasu appears to have neglected it’s mobile properties.
Mobile is the future of cloud-accounting
MYOB has the MYOB OnTheGo app that businesses can use to check outstanding payments, create invoices, and even update customer records. The app allows users to manage their accounts when they have the time – like in the few minutes waiting to meet with a business associate for lunch, for instance – rather than forcing them to set aside large portions of their time to stay on top of their accounts, which is really why bank feeds and cloud-accounting have become so popular. Of course, MYOB isn’t the only company to offer a mobile app – Xero, Quickbooks, and Zoho all offer mobile apps to compliment their desktop offerings.
As for Saasu, they’re certainly the ones to watch. For what was once a nimble Aussie startup to have partnered with one of the big four banks, it shows that there’s a new frontier of cloud-account nearly upon us.
We were asked by one of our MYOB course students recently how you can manage user access to your MYOB accounting file and we did some looking around, spoke to our MYOB course creator and came up with the following useful information.
You can go to the MYOB website and click on my.MYOB to get to the details of your “participation” with MYOB AccountRight –
[quote]sorry, NERD ALERT! I happened to be reading the MYOB Terms of Service and “Participate” is the term that the MYOB legal team use to describe how companies use the MYOB AccountRight service -[/quote]
which enables you to choose your administrators as well as who you want to be able to access your file (like your bookkeeper or accountant). But you can also manage users from within the software. Note the out of place word here? – Software – Yes, when you launch the software and Open your Online data file, you can setup users and be much more prescriptive as to what they can access or not, but also which areas they have read only access as opposed to full access (read and write).
MYOB AccountRight User Access Managed in the Software
The silly part of this is we would expect cloud-based software to enable you to do everything in the cloud! If you look at the current MYOB model for their AccountRight Live product you still need to download the software to use it and you still need to update the company file if you update the software version!? We thought that this day had passed when the concept of cloud based accounting arrived.
Is it Designed to Help Current MYOB Users?
When I look at the way that MYOB AccountRight Live is managed at first it looks like it was built for people who are used to having a software program on their computer. Then when you see the capability to Open company data files that are stored “Online” you get the feeling that it would be just as easy to use Dropbox to store your datafile. The worst news comes when you expect the MYOB AccountRight Live software (that has a little cloud around the live) to work just like other cloud-based account programs like SAASU, QuickBooks Online and Xero you get dissappointed in having to install and use software on every computer you use – and I haven’t even tested to see if they have a program for the iPad.
If you are the kind of person that loves storing a local version of your datafile (and take the risks of protecting your own computer against, viruses, crashes or other corruption) this might seem like a good feature. I bet we see this product evolve until the point where it is finally an all online accounting solution.
How to change User Access Rights using MYOB Account Right Live
Although you can make some rudimentary changes via my.myob.com the best way to add users and make specific choices about what they can see as well as what they can edit and see, you need to launch the software (make sure you’ve downloaded it of course) and then go to Setup, User Access.
We used a current version of AccountRight Live Basics to perform our tests and any new content we create and publish for our MYOB Training Courses are available to existing students – whether you are on a 12 month course access program or LIFETIME course access. Feel free to enquire with us if you have any questions about our online MYOB Training Courses, or enrol today, start by 5pm tomorrow and be comforted by a 30 day money back guarantee.
IN ADDITION TO OUR MYOB and Xero online training courses, we also offer an online training course in Reach Accounting, the cloud-accounting software by Aussie-owned company, Net Registry.
Not many people are aware of this, and I’ve been quite remiss when it comes to talking about it on this blog. In fact, I’ve spent more time talking about Zoho and QuickBooks recently, than I have spent time talking about Reach.
This is partly because I’ve been quite interested to see how QuickBooks has been resurrected by it’s American-owned parent company, Intuit, as it attempts to take on Xero and MYOB in the Australian marketplace again.
Zoho is both comprehensive and cheap
My interest in Zoho, meanwhile, stems from one of my contractors, who uses Zoho Books to manage her business accounts; she was telling me about Zoho’s many features, and I surprised to learn just how comprehensive the Zoho Books software is for such a low price.
Zoho and QuickBooks are both positioning themselves as low-cost accounting packages to appeal to the substantial small business market in Australia, but there’s just one thing they can’t compete with Reach Accounting on, and that’s ‘Australianness’.
Reach Accounting is an Australian owned and operated business, and as the owner of an Australian owned and operated business, I like to support other Australians in their business ventures. Reach Accounting focus their accounting software towards people who start a business as a website designer.
Why it’s harder for Aussie businesses to compete
I’m always saddened when I hear of Australian businesses being sold to overseas conglomerates, which take the Aussie jobs back overseas with them, where the wages and materials are cheaper. It makes it all the more difficult to compete for customers in the Australian marketplace when your once-Australian competitor is now producing products or services at a much lower price at their offshore headquarters.
It’s also difficult to compete with the increasing number of overseas-owned businesses entering the fray, now that the Internet has unlocked a global marketplace. What many Australian businesses don’t realise, however, is that they possess a power those overseas businesses don’t: they speak Aussie.
Whether you’re a home-based bookkeeper or virtual assistant, one of your greatest assets is that you’re an Australian and that means you have a deep understanding of what it means to be Australian – from the accent to the vernacular, you get it.
The power of ‘G’day’
It’s also a lot easier to call an Australian company than it is to call an overseas one. My Zoho Books-using contractor was telling me of a complex situation she was experiencing with her account. Unfortunately, the nearest customer service office she could call was located in China, so she had to email.
Several confused emails later, she finally realised what had happened with her account, and managed to resolve the issue herself. She later told me: “It’s a good thing I studied semiotics at university, because deciphering those emails was like trying to interpret hieroglyphics.”
I suddenly thought about Reach Accounting, which is based in the Inner Sydney suburb of Ultimo. For the same price as Zoho Books – possibly even cheaper now, thanks to the fluctuating Aussie dollar – it would have been much easier to say “G’day” to one of the guys at Reach than it was to email China or India or Japan or wherever in the world Zoho’s customer service offices are based.
Don’t be afraid to say “G’day”
As an Australian business, don’t hide your Australianness from view. Wear it proudly, because it makes a big difference to customers trying to decide between your company and the multinational after their business.
While we are on the topic I want to mention our StartUp Academy because we are planning some fantastic ways of helping ordinary people start a business in 2015.
We’re using a combination of our Small Business Management Course and business opportunities from established companies who want to find people who can work from home and sell and support their products.
If you’re working as a contractor and using an Australian business number (ABN), rather than a tax file number (TFN), you’re self-employed, and this means you will need to invoice your customers for the products or services you provide in order to get paid.
If you’ve only ever worked as an employee before, you’re probably used to being able to set your clock to payday, but unfortunately this isn’t often the case when you’re a contractor.