9.5 Frequently asked Questions by business owners
1. How can I keep my accounting fees down?
There are several methods that you can use to minimise your accounting fees. Here are our top 5 suggestions:
- Keep your records up to date. It is much cheaper to employ an administration person or bookkeeper than to pay an accountant to fix up your records.
- If you do your own bookkeeping, make sure that you receive training.
- Speak to your accountant prior to organizing any type of Business Finance, Lease, Hire Purchase or Loan. Most GST errors occur with the recording of financial liabilities and repayments. It is much faster and cheaper for your accountant to set these things up at the start, rather than amending your Business Activity Statements and accounting records at the end of the year.
- Ask your accountant what they need and the best way for you to provide it.
- Use the services of a professional bookkeeper. They are likely to be able to save you time by doing the work quicker than you could do it yourself. Plus it feels better when you don't have to worry about your bookkeeping. If you need a bookkeeper we can recommend local professionals in most states.
2. What is the best way to keep my records?
The simple answer is that there is no "best" way. Most people hate that answer, however it is true.
There are two factors to consider:
- The size and structure of your business; and
- The personalities of you and your staff.
The second is perhaps more important to the first. That's because there are a number of systems available.
For example, if you're the sort of person that hates computers, there's is no point in using a computer-based system unless you are willing to change. If you hate filing, then a paperwork-intensive system will only de-motivate you.
It is important that you discuss your options with your Accountant.
3. What's the best business structure for me?
This question is more complicated than many people think.
Here are some important factors to consider:
- Your risk management strategy, including your exposure to litigation risks and the need for asset protection
- The expected size, growth and income of your business
- Whether or not you have a need for a nationally registered business name, e.g. If you want to operate under one name in more than one state
- Who will be involved in owning the business and whether or not you plan to introduce equity partners or shareholders in future
- Your career and work plans for the future, e.g. When you plan to retire, how long you plan to work for and if you are expecting to have time off
- The structure of your family and whether you have beneficiaries to whom you wish to distribute income
- The availability of reduced tax rates and other tax concessions (e.g. Capital Gains Tax concessions for Individuals) and how you plan to spend the money you earn.
4. Which Accounting package is best for me?
This depends on several factors:
- The size and structure of your business
- Whether you are a service or trading business
- What you want to do with the software, e.g. Do you want to use it to create invoices, do you have payroll needs?
- Your access to information technology and your skill level using information technology
- Your budget
Astute Accountants & Associates is a professional partner with Xero , MYOB, and Quickbooks.
Generally we can work with any accounting package providing that we can access your Trial Balance, Balance Sheet, GST Ledgers, General Ledger and Profit and Loss Statements.
We have found that Xero is ideal for most businesses as it works well for clients who wish to do their own data entry but require our help to ensure the accounts are in order.
We prefer Xero and we are able to provide support for the program and the feedback we get from our clients has been excellent, however having said that, we're also happy to work with MYOB and Quicken, if that is the software you are currently using.
It is advisable to discuss your Accounting Software requirements with your Accountant, or organise a consultation with Astute Accountants & Associates to find the perfect fit for your business.
5. What records are required to prepare my tax return?
This depends on what type of tax returns you require. As a general rule the following is required:
- Bank Statements (Reconciled to the End of the Year)
- All Hire Purchase, Lease and Loan Documents relating to your business or investments
- Details of all your income from Investments, Capital Gains, Interest or Business
- Details of all Expenses relating to your income earning
- Copies of All Business Activity Statements lodged and any working pages
- Tax returns from previous years
- Details of your previous accountant if you operate a Business
6. How much should I be charged for a tax return?
Rates vary enormously from practice to practice.
Our rates are very affordable and depend on the size of your business and the type of service that you require. As a guide, Standard Individual Tax Returns are $220.00 plus GST and Small Business Tax Returns start from $650.00 plus GST
Our standard rates are $220.00 per hour + GST for accounting issues and $80.00 per hour + GST for bookkeeping.
In order to review your Business Progress, Taxation Planning and Preparation and Lodgment of your Business Activity Statement, we would normally suggest that we meet at least briefly on a quarterly basis.
After the first year of service, we can work on a fixed cost basis, billed on a quarterly basis.
7. My tax returns are overdue! What would be a normal turnaround time for an accounting practice?
Every accounting practice is different and every business is different, however at Astute Accountants as a general rule, we find that it takes approximately 6 weeks to complete your tax return from the time that all the necessary documents are received. Here's an outline of the process:
Week 1: Initial Consultation and review of past tax returns, issuing of Ethical Documents to previous accountant
Week 2 and 3: Data Collection from you and inputting of data
Week 4: Receipt of Ethical Clearance from previous accountant and processing of tax return. Send list of queries to be answered by you.
Week 5 and 6: Final Meetings to discuss tax return, refund or payment options, signing of returns, discussion of future business taxation issues and tax planning.
8. I'm new to business. How can an accountant help me?
The right accountant will assist you to understand the accounting side of your business and ensure that you have the right information to develop an accounting and bookkeeping system that works for you. That way, you don't have to pay accountants to spend time correcting mistakes or filing errors. No doubt you have better things to spend your money on than paying your accountant to do your fili.
We offer a personal and professional service, it is in both of our best interests to not only help you, but to provide you with the best set up advice possible as you grow we also grow.
In our initial consultation we can go through most of the tax basics with you and provide you with the information and resources you need.
9. I'm based in a city other than Perth. Can you help do my tax return?
Astute Accountants & Associates currently has clients from all over West Australia, and indeed in several other states of Australia as well as America, Canada and the UK.
We are generally able to provide services to individuals and organizations based in any state, however it is important to recognise that we provide a personalised Business and Taxation Service, and where possible we like to talk with clients face to face from time to time or at least by telephone.
9.5 What is Astute Accountants background?
Our Director, Diane has been providing Business and Taxation Services since 1998 and has been a registered Tax Agent since July 2000. She has also run her own businesses and is an owner of several investment properties.
She is a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Accountants (FIPA), a registered tax agent, and operates under the rules and regulations of a Public Practice under the rules of the Institute of Professional Accountants.
The IPA designation provides our clients with a guarantee that they are dealing with a trained professional, who has met the academic, ethical and practical requirements of the IPA with an ongoing commitment to Continuing Professional Education (CPE). The IPA formally known as the NIA has a long-standing history of involvement in the accounting industry as one of Australia's oldest professional bodies.