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The Secret to an Error-Free BAS Report

What To Do So You Don’t Lose Money When Doing Your BAS

lodging correct business activity statements
Why pay more money to the ATO at your expense? A good bookkeeper may save you money when it comes time to lodge your BAS.

If your business is registered for GST, it means you have to file regular activity statements with the ATO, usually each quarter. A lot of business owners export their Business Activity Statement (BAS) data straight from their accounting software, like MYOB or QuickBooks, and quickly prepare their BAS’ that way. But this is an imprecise method, and one that could be costing you money.

Tracey Marino, an experienced bookkeeper based in Rockingham, WA, knows how important it is that businesses of all sizes keep their Business Activity Statements error-free so as not to end up costing business owners money. 

An Error-Free BAS in 6 Steps

Here’s six steps you can take for an accurate BAS:

  1. Check to ensure all bank, credit card, overdraft, loan, and petty cash accounts are reconciled with the original bank statements at the end of every BAS quarter.
  2. Print your monthly profit and loss (P&L) report for the respective BAS quarter, and check for abnormalities in income or expenditure over the three months. You should also compare this quarter’s P&L report with the P&L report from the previous quarter (in the same financial year), as well as the P&L report from the same quarter in the previous financial year to detect any unexpected transactions.
  3. Print out the balance sheet as at the end of the BAS quarter. Note the balances for the wage and salary, payroll, payable, super expense and payable, and PAYG and GST accounts, and investigate any abnormalities.
  4. Generate the general ledger exceptions report to review any abnormal transactions. This report will indicate any differences in the GST codes for the same types of purchases or sales by comparing the current transactions with previous transactions.
  5. Print your BAS and compare with it with last quarter’s BAS, as well as the BAS from the same quarter of the previous year, and ensure that your GST, PAYG, sales, and purchases are consistent across all three BAS’.
  6. Lodge and pay your BAS on time to avoid penalties, and remember to record the BAS payment in your accounting software.

Although this may appear to be ‘double handling’, in fact, it eliminates double handling by ensuring that the activity statements you lodge with the ATO are correct and error-free. Typically, the mistakes this method turns up are ones that would be of benefit to the ATO and not to the business owner. So rather than give the ATO more money than you need to, make sure you follow this method for an error-free BAS lodgment.

An Experienced Bookkeeper in WA

bookkeeper-rockingham-wa
Tracey Marino is available to provide bookkeeping services in the Rockingham area of WA.

Looking for a reliable and accurate bookkeeper to manage your business’ daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts, either in the cloud (remotely) or in-person?

Tracey Marino is available to service businesses located in Port Kennedy, Warnbro, Baldivis, Secret Harbour, Golden Bay, Safety Bay, Shoalwater, Rockingham and Cooloongup, WA. Tracey is a an expert in MYOB AccountRight, QuickBooks and Microsoft Excel and can prepare and lodge your company’s BAS, set up credit management systems, along with carrying out all manner of day-to-day accounting functions for small to medium businesses. Find out more about Tracey’s experience at her profile page.

Our National Bookkeeping website has recently undergone a significant upgrade so keep a look out for more stories about featured bookkeepers in forthcoming blogs. Join now and we can feature YOU in our articles too.

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Bank Recs is BAS preparation but lodgement is legal

Due dates for BAS lodgement can be deferred by BAS agents

Due dates for lodging BAS's and extensions for BAS Agents using the BAS Agent portal - Bank Recs do most of the work
Image: ATO website

If you’re doing your BAS with the help of a Tax or BAS agent you might be aware that although the actual due date for the March quarter BAS is 28th April you can get an extension by using a tax or BAS agent to the 26th of May. We’ve had quite a few conversations lately with bookkeepers about whether they can do this or not and if not who can they turn to, to do it.

When you lodge a BAS with the ATO you are effectively telling them how much you’ve earnt and spent but more importantly you are defining how much the business actually pays in tax – and they DON’T want you to get this amount wrong. If the amount is wrong and in your favour you may incur fees and charges and the TAX and BAS agent system (that is managed by the Tax Practictioners Board) has been set up to assume that only someone who has the training and experience is responsible for lodging these important documents. If they get it wrong a small business owner can sue them for the time it takes to fix the problem and for this BAS agents need professional indemnity insurance.

Non-registered Bookkeepers and BAS Agents

The good news for both businesses AND ordinary bookkeepers who are not registered BAS agents is that you can have a bookkeeper do your data entry, as well as help you with various aspects of your business accounts and administration (like accounts payable, receivable and even customer service etc) for a good, low rate. Many of these bookkeepers operate as independent contractors so the small business doesn’t need to employ a staff member to do the books [want to start your own bookkeeping business cheaply? Look at joining National Bookkeeping] and some of them are very experienced in bookkeeping and even running their own businesses.

The good news is that you can still use one of these bookkeepers to take care of the accounts side of your business and use your accountant or a BAS agent for the BAS preparation and lodgement.

Bank reconciliation done right is where all the work is done

Now we have the BAS lodgement details out of the way let’s get into the bank reconciliation. This work is often done by the accounts person or contractor and it’s where most of the time and effort in preparing a BAS is spent. If this is done correctly the BAS preparation is pretty simple so it made us delve a little further into the steps taken in doing this work. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Launch your accounting software
  2. Go to the bank reconciliation area
  3. Start matching entries in your software with lines on the bank statement (much easier and faster with bank feeds and Internet banking).
  4. Reconcile each month
  5. Run your BAS report

Many people at this stage will need to provide copies of their bank statement to their accountant, BAS agent or bookkeeper so that person can see actually real world evidence of that transaction (sometimes bank feeds are perfect either). It’s at this stage that you realise whether you made the right choice in the bank you choose because not all banks are equal in Australia even if they are grouped as the BIG four. I’ve written about my disappointment in how hard it is to use a bank like NAB before and I’m afraid I’m gong to have to do it again, comparing NAB to CBA for the ease of getting bank statements.

Bank Statements and Internet Banking – Bad news NAB

CBA Netbank easy to get past statements up to 7 years old compared to NAB business bankingCBA provide 7 years of storage for bank statements so if you do have to go back and get an old one guess what? No calls to make, not bank statement fees to pay, no need to search through your filing cabinat for paper statements, all you need to do is go back to that period and download the file as a PDF and email it to your accountant or bookkeeper.

NAB is too old, statements are hard to get and customer service needs to change with statement searchTo do this with NAB is very similar to walking into one of their branches (well the one they just closed down at Dee Why anyway) – it’s old, clunky and hard to work with and often I’ve found you need to email or call or do physical searching around your office for this rudimentary information – this task alone can make the whole bank reconciliation experience very frustrating.

Do your end of year reports now

facebook marketing and advertising course onlineWhile we are on the topic of reporting you may be aware that there are some tax deductions and expenses that you can claim this financial year so it’s a good time to know exactly how you have performed this financial year – plus you’ll see how far short or ahead you are from last year and you can do your own Jerry Harvey style clearance sale – everything has to go, go, go because we have TOO MUCH stock.

We’re preparing some blogs that’ll be published shortly about some of the deductions and tax breaks you might want to take advantage of. Hopefully after these we’ll be able to focus on our online digital marketing courses like Facebook Pages for business and Facebook advertising for real estate agents! Every one will benefit from these Facebook courses but we’ll slant towards how real estate agents can use Facebook to attract vendors in their local area – it’s fascinating.

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Don’t be afraid, connect with the ATO via Business Portal

ATO Business Portal to lodge your BAS online using MYOBAre you still receiving your Business Activity Statements via mail? We receive our notification that the BAS is ready at the ATO’s Business Portal but the Business Portal is much more useful than just a way to deliver your BAS.

There are some great features of online tax lodgement:

  1. You can lodge your BAS immediately online
  2. You can see historical lodgements
  3. You can change your contact details

The most complicated part of dealing direct with the ATO is the setting up of a digital certificate, but once that is sorted out you have all the convenience that you have come to expect from your internet banking and any other online service. All the information is there, you don’t have to rely on the mail to send or receive your BAS and you know exactly where you stand. If you have missed a lodgement you’ll also find that information at the portal.

The website address for the portal is https://bp.ato.gov.au/ so check it out and get through your compliance issues faster.

MYOB GST, reporting and BAS training coursesOur MYOB Reporting, GST and BAS course (which includes bank reconciliation) shows you how to get to the BASlink to produce a BAS using the data that you have already entered into MYOB. If you have entered everything correctly you will just need to complete your contact name and number and how long it took to complete. Then you can print that form out and keep it in your records. The information you see in the totals can then simply be entered in the Business Portal and submitted to lodge your BAS and get your compliance tasks out of the way so you can focus on running your business.