And this is not about shaming or pointing the finger. Getting behind in your bookkeeping happens to some of the best businesses. It can be because an inexperienced person has previously been handling the books; you didn’t have the right systems in place to keep on top of it; or maybe your data file was set up incorrectly.
Diagnosing rescue bookkeeping
If your business has any of the following issues, you probably need rescue bookkeeping:
Your bank balance in Xero or MYOB doesn’t match with your bank statements
Bills have been paid, but they’re still showing as outstanding
There are many different reasons why people get behind in their bookkeeping. If it’s because the business owner lacks the time and let their bookkeeping pile up, it’s usually easy rectify, though it is time consuming. (There’ll be months and months worth of transactions and receipts to code and keep records of.)
If their data file was set up incorrectly, it’s sometimes a little harder to diagnose and it’s even harder to fix. It’ll need to be set up again and all of your transaction data re-entered; again, there’ll be months and months worth of transactions and receipts.
What happens during a bookkeeping rescue?
When you first meet with a bookkeeper, they’ll review your records to determine what your problem might be, and what needs to be done to get your bookkeeping up-to-date and in shape.
Given the volume of work and the complexity of it, your bookkeeper might not be able to tell you exactly how long it will take to get your accounts under control. They’ll generally have a ballpark idea of how long, but nothing concrete.
When your bookkeeper starts working on your accounts, they’ll be in fairly regular contact. You’ll need to be available to respond to emails or phone calls during this time.
For businesses that only withhold up to $25,000 each year, you’re supposed to make PAYG payments and file a withholding report each quarter. You have 28 days from the end of the quarter to do so, after which time, you may incur a Failure To Lodge (FTL) penalty.
As with PAYG payments and reporting, you can also incur a FTL penalty for not lodging or paying your employees’ superannuation contributions in time. All businesses, regardless of size, have to make superannuation payments each quarter — the ATO sets out the due dates for each period on their website.
Lodging late PAYG and super payments
The ATO only applies penalties for failure to lodge reports or make payments for each period of 28 days (or part thereof) that a document or payment is overdue. Each period incurs one penalty unit for each document, up to a maximum of five penalty units.
From 2015 onwards, the value of a penalty unit is $180 (previously it was $170) for small businesses, which are defined as entities with an assessable income or GST turnover of no more than $1 million a year.
The maximum penalty a small business will pay is $900 for each document or payment that is overdue. Note too that FTL penalties will also incur a general interest charge (GIC), applied on top of the penalty.
Managing late PAYG and super payments
Use the Ad Hoc Payroll Guide, a new case study that is included in our Intermediate Microsoft Excel Training Coursesto determine the rate of PAYG tax to withhold and the required super contribution amounts in Excel. Once you’ve worked out the required amounts (visit the ATO website for tax tables prior to 2017), lodge the necessary PAYG payments and reports to the ATO; pay super contributions using the SuperStream super clearing house.
The ATO will write to you if you are required to pay a penalty — sometimes they are waived for first-time offences, or if the amounts are small.
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