In 2010 Charlotte and her husband went to their accountant. Her husband Ben, is an expert polisher, one of the best in Geelong, and she is raising four young children. The accountant told Ben, that he should “get MYOB software and do his own books to save money.” Although he is an expert polisher he is not an expert with computers or software or bookkeeping for that matter.
This became evident when in 2012 the family brought their books back to the accountant. The accountant got upset and said “I told you that you should get some bookkeeping software and do the books yourself.” After a difficult and disagreeable meeting it was suggested that Charlotte do the books for the family business. The accountant told Charlotte “…..this is exactly how you do it. Don’t worry about how Ben used to do it I want you to do it this way from now on. Ideally I want you to go back through what Ben has done and also do it exactly this way.”
Charlotte tried and tried over the following year to do the past two years and the current year using the software, and at the same time trying to learn how to become a bookkeeper and raise four young children while Ben was at work.
In 2013 when Charlotte and Ben returned to the accountant, the accountant said that Charlotte and Ben were “hopeless.” Shortly after that the accountant informed them that he was no longer willing to “help.”
After much disagreement with Ben, Charlotte agreed to try again and started compiling her books and the all the mail from the tax office. At the school crossing one day Charlotte saw one of the Diligence Bookkeeping cars with the contact details on it, and gave the number a call. Immediately Charlotte was shown the Xero software package and how it was able to capture large amounts of information. All of the past financial years were compiled into the database.
Because Charlotte had all of the information she was able to compile the data for:
In total the family had five accounts at the tax office. It was a complex structure and very difficult to comprehend.
Last week, after four months of working through the last few years worth of transactions together, Charlotte was able to say that she was totally up to date and she had lodged all of her outstanding tax and BAS lodgements to the ATO. With the help of the Diligence Bookkeeping BAS agents, Charlotte was able to negotiate payment plans on those accounts that she was able to afford and that the ATO would accept.
In summary, somehow it became Charlotte’s fault that:
If you ask us that’s just not fair.
Now she’s up to date and Diligence have put systems in place to keep her up to date and she is a very happy mum again. She has learned a great deal about the systems and software, and will do some work herself and whatever she does not get done, she knows who to ask.
As a final note, when our BAS agent told this story to the ATO they showed clemency. They remitted all of Charlotte’s fines (over $17,000) and her interest too.
It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t her fault and now she’s moving on thanks to the ATO, Xero, her persistence and the help of her bookkeepers.
The construction industry is tough, but Tony and his earthmoving business have been operating in Geelong for some time now. The hours are long (to be ready to start work at 7 AM Tony needs to be up around 5am). He loads his excavator, bobcat and truck, tops up the diesel in all the engines and then hits the road.
Once on site Tony conducts the safety checks, then the rest of the day involves driving machinery, removing concrete, shifting dirt, digging up trees and whatever else the owner or developer requires. Tony also takes phone calls from new and prospective clients and discusses new projects while on the the current job. He rarely has time to make a packed lunch or cook himself a hot meal to bring to the site. At the end of the job he cleans up, packs up, greases the moving parts, moves everything back onto the truck and trailer and then moves onto the next job site to repeat the process.
Tony’s wife Jules, is a nurse and is a very good “people” person. She works a lot of hours and does a lot of shift work. With her long hours and dislike of numbers she is not interested in helping Tony with the books. Especially as the only time they get to see each other is at the end of a long day and some weekends, when they are both so tired. The last thing Jules wants is to talk about is tax and deductions.
Neither Tony nor Jules want to become bookkeepers, but they do want to run a successful business with the right systems in place. They also want support and guidance to ensure that they maintain their competitive edge in the tough world of construction.
But this is the only time in Tony’s busy week that he can squeeze in the invoicing. He reluctantly sits at his old computer, opens up his old MYOB software and starts plugging away.
On July 1st Tony called Diligence Bookkeeping to see if Diligence could help do his tax and to see if there was a better option for his bookkeeping.
Two nights later the owner of Diligence Bookkeeping, Steve Miller, sat with Tony at his dinner table in Torquay, having just created a Xero Accounting Software account and completed the basic Xero setup for Tony. Diligence then loaded the required information for Tony’s invoicing and ensured that all the MYOB contacts and addresses were transferred correctly.
Tony was especially excited when Steve showed him the Xero App for his iPhone that would allow Tony to do his invoicing from the job site so that the customer paid him for the time to complete his invoice before he left the site. This was going to eliminate the evening and weekend job that he used to do instead of spending time with Jules, plus it means that he would get paid faster and his cashflow position would be dramatically improved.
For the first time in his life Tony was very excited about accounting software!!
The invoicing process for his construction business became so much simpler for Tony. Whenever he needed help to add inventory items or to create accounting codes, all Tony needed to do was contact Diligence Bookkeeping and we could make the needed additions remotely due to the cloud based nature of the Xero software. This made Tony’s life become so much simpler and he was so much happier!!
When tax time came around, Tony asked if Diligence could load his last three months of data from Xero into his old MYOB software. Diligence actually recommended that it would be just as quick to load the entire financial year of data into Xero and to complete his end of year tax returns from there!!
Because Tony was able to download an entire year of transactions for each of his accounts and Diligence loaded them straight into Xero the following day.
Tony saw first hand that with great software and support he and Jules were going to be able to have more time together, charge the client for the time it takes to invoice, get some of the bookkeeping done during the day through his iPhone and delegate the rest of his bookkeeping to the Xero Accounting Software specialists at Diligence Bookkeeping.
Tony reckons he does about 20 jobs a week, and it used to take about 10 minutes to do each invoice and he often left it to the weekend. That meant that he was doing over 3 hours of unpaid work on a weekend instead of spending it with Jules and the kids. Because of the time delay from when the job was done to when the invoice was getting done, he knew he was missing key bits of information that were hurting his business. Now with his app for Xero he going to be able to complete an invoice in five minutes and do it before he leaves the customer’s site and email the invoice before he drives off. He says it’s a revolution in his business.
Recently Diligence Bookkeeping in Geelong, was approached to do the bookkeeping for a bookkeeper!! Peter is a great bookkeeper, and was so busy that he never had time to do his own books. Incredibly it meant that he was over four years behind in his returns.
In some ways this was great news. Peter was able to help us to bring all of the data from the last four years into the right format, and very quickly show us the pattern of his trading. Once we had this it was really easy for the Diligence bookkeepers to create a database for him.
Peter’s database was set up on Xero Accounting Software within 24 hours. By converting his digital bank records and paper transactions into data it was possible to complete four years of bank reconciliations in just one day. This meant that Peter could lodge all of his old returns, and essentially catch right up in no time at all.
Is this possible for any business person? Simply, yes. Although the process of getting the transaction information into raw data is sometimes time-consuming, once that has been done it is possible to group all of the data alphabetically and not by date. Once data is sorted alphabetically it doesn’t matter how many years of data there is, if the transaction says BP, it is very likely fuel and so bulk transactions can be treated in one go.
It is important to note that in all cases where you want to claim a deduction, you must keep the receipt for that expense. It is likely in the event of an audit that if there is no receipt, there will be no allowable tax deduction.
These kinds of solutions for “leaky taps” are very possible and the conversation that needs to be had with the ATO is one that Diligence Bookkeeping have had for many of our clients, successfully in the past.
Rob has been a truck driver for 25 years. He can drive any truck there is, and has the licenses to prove it.
He has always preferred to be the subcontractor rather than being an employee, as it gave him better flexibility and tax deductions. He always used to say that once he made $1200 for the week he would go home and spend time with his family, rather than taking on too much. This was in the time when $60,000 per year was enough to provide a very good standard of living.
In 2011 Rob accepted an offer to work on a gas pipeline in Queensland. Long days and great income were normal, and Rob moved his family to a newly purchased home in Geelong. There looked like being no further problems ahead for this honest, hard working man.
The problems started when Rob started to make over $75,000 per year. (That is the threshold for having to lodge GST returns).
Because Rob didn’t love doing his bookwork he always made a point of at least saving every envelope in the side door of his truck. Even though a lot of the envelopes were not open, he had everything. In that pile of papers was the letter that said he had to register for GST.
Keeping documents is an important part of good bookkeeping. However what Rob wasn’t doing was reporting back to the ATO what he was doing each quarter, and because he didn’t have a BAS Agent he had no access to the ATO to know what they were expecting from him.
When Rob decided that the next step was to buy his own truck, he needed his books to show the bank. The bank also asked to see a copy of the ATO portal printout for Rob. This is where the plan fell over, but because Rob had kept all of his documents it made the catch up a lot easier.
Rob had an accountant five years ago, who, for many years had done his work and who had done a great job. But this accountant retired and Rob moved from New South Wales to Geelong.
Rob didn’t know many people in Geelong and he was very busy with work, often working 7 weeks in every eight.
As with many sub contractors, Rob was unsure about who should be paying superannuation, what his BAS obligations were, whether he should have registered for GST, and where he stood as far as tax was concerned. Because Rob was so busy on the pipeline when he moved to Geelong, he started to earn over $75,000 per year consistently. This meant that Rob needed to register for GST. It also meant that Rob should have lodged many BAS returns.
Unfortunately the result was that the ATO garnished Rob’s account one Friday just before Rob was about to pay his mortgage, as there were many fines and much unpaid GST.
The phone call we organised and made to the ATO (as Robs new BAS agents) was a bit scary for Rob, because he thought he was going to be in very big trouble as he had been garnished.
In fact when the call went a lot better than expected, Rob was able to relax a bit and we agreed that we would meet each time he came back from the pipeline, with a view to reconciling his tax bill and getting his plan back on track.
Rob worked three weeks on and one week off for eight months and successfully paid off all of his back taxes and in that same time, with our help and by using XERO, reconciled all of his transactions.
During the process Rob started to gain confidence in his financial situation and together we were able to negotiate a payment plan for the ATO that meant there was enough money remaining to renovate his family home.
After eight months Rob was ready to work a lot closer to home and asked for our help to create a business plan for buying a new truck. When Rob went for the loan, his house value was higher, his ATO portal report was clear, his income was good and stable, and he was successful in applying for enough money to buy his own truck.
Because Rob had been using XERO and because it’s such a simple to use system, Rob now had confidence that he would be able to understand and operate the books in his new business, after such a difficult time.
It is over one year since Rob successfully applied for funding for his new truck now and now he is looking for a new driver for the second truck!
Rob’s invoices are made automatically for his regular monthly truck hire rates. All payments are easily reconciled through XERO, and when it comes time to lodge his BAS return it can be done with the press of a button and it is extremely fast and cost effective.
The most interesting result for Rob is that for what he used to pay his accountant he is now getting all of his bookkeeping done instead of doing it himself, and he’s getting his BAS statements lodged for the same price.
This is what XERO can do by adding confidence, access to information and ease of use.
While Rob was away working he could log into his XERO account at the same time as his bookkeeper and discuss how the plan was going. Obviously when he was in Queensland, phone calls to home were more special and important to him than the call to the bookkeeper, however he did say that the calls to the bookkeeper made it a lot easier to keep going for the last eight months up north.
He says now that he has caught up and has had great help, he will “never look back.”
We say welcome home and well done.
This story is one that will show you how Tony, a small business owner was able to free up 5 hours a week every single week in his business.
Tony has an earthmoving business. To be ready to start work at 7am he needs to be up at around 5am. There is plenty to do. He loads the excavator, bobcat and truck, fills everything up with diesel and drives to the first job for the day.