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Preparing For Your BAS? Take The Mystery Out Of What You Might Owe The ATO With These Tricks

Been hearing a lot about business activity statements, and feeling more than a little pressure?

Kicking off the new year for your business shouldn’t be shrouded in the darkness that can be a looming BAS. But how can you be certain that your business is prepared?

To start with, demystifying the BAS might alleviate some of that anxiety and pressure your business may have been facing. Essentially, a business activity statement (BAS) is a government form that all businesses must lodge to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). All businesses registered for GST need to lodge a business activity statement (BAS). This can be done with the assistance of a registered tax agent or BAS agent.

A BAS is a summary of all the business taxes you have paid or will pay to the government during a specific period of time. You may lodge your BAS monthly, quarterly or annually (depending on the size of your business you may not have the annual or quarterly option) or may do so through your tax/BAS agent.

When lodging your BAS, you need to include these payments within it:

  • Goods and services tax (GST)
  • Pay as you go (PAYG) income tax instalment
  • Pay as you go (PAYG) tax withheld
  • Fringe benefits tax (FBT) instalment
  • Luxury car tax (LCT)
  • Wine equalisation tax (WET)
  • Fuel tax credits

A BAS is issued by the ATO either monthly or quarterly. A form needs to be lodged with the ATO and payment made to the ATO by the due dates as follows:

  • For monthly BAS: within 21 days of the end of the month on the form
  • For quarterly BAS:
    • Quarter July – September: Due 28 October
    • Quarter October – December: Due 28 February
    • Quarter January – March: Due 28 April
    • Quarter April – June: Due 28 July

(as registered tax agents we are given an extension to most of these deadlines)

You may instead be eligible to submit an Instalment Activity Statement (IAS). In the IAS, the ATO tells you every quarter what your GST instalment amount is and where applicable your PAYG instalment amount is.  Essentially, the IAS is a form that is similar to the BAS, but simpler in that you do not have to be concerned about GST and some other nominated taxes.

Businesses that are not registered for GST and individuals who are required to pay PAYG instalments or PAYG withholding (such as self-funded retirees) use this form to pay PAYG.

IAS provides a little more flexibility in the arrangement as the instalments are advised by the ATO on what you need to pay to cover your liabilities.

You may be able to vary those amounts if you feel that the advised instalments are too much or not enough to cover your liabilities. You may also be able to pay the amount in one lump sum at the end of the year. Before changing the amount due, or the timing of the payment, it’s best to consult with us (or your registered BAS agent) for additional advice to suit your circumstances.

Preparing For Your BAS

Your IAS and BAS can be used to assist in monitoring your business finances. Though you only need to lodge these every quarter, waiting until the due date to get all of the information you require for the statements may cause you to miss out on critical observations (such as how much you may actually owe the ATO).

Daily tracking of your income and expenses can assist in calculating your GST and other liabilities on your BAS, and allows you to ensure that there won’t be any nasty surprises waiting for you.

Here are some tips on how you can prepare for your BAS or IAS this quarter

  • Get everything up to date (such as your accounting software), and ensure that all of your bank feeds are imported, allocated and reconciled.
  • If you are completing the BAS yourself, ensure that the reports from your accounting software are printed off every week – this should give you an estimate of what you would have to pay if your BAS was due right away.
  • Check that your bank account for your business has enough money in it to cover your BAS payment.
  • Create a profit and loss statement after printing your BAS reports to show you how much money has been made in the week (or month) to date

If you’re someone who often finds it difficult to make large lump sum payments for goods or services, you may want to consider looking into “Buy Now Pay Later” services.

Buy now pay later essentially means that, rather than paying in a full lump sum payment for a product or services rendered, there may be an option to pay through instalments of a certain amount over a set period to make the sum of the full amount in total. This method should allow you to pay in full for the product or service without overly straining your finances – you pay back what you can, as agreed upon when you begin the buy now pay later service.

Some popular buy now pay later services include Afterpay, Zip Pay, Brightepay, and some credit card networks such as  Mastercard and Visa, can offer buy now pay later arrangements.

Though it can be a convenient, immediate solution, it may be challenging to juggle the necessary repayments with other financial commitments. It’s not always the most appropriate method for people, and you should bear in mind your situation and ability in paying back the amounts. 

Before you sign up, keep in mind: 

  • It becomes easier to overspend with buy now pay later services, so know your limits on what you can and can’t afford.
  • You will be charged fees and costs to use the service, which can add up to a princely sum in and of itself.
  • Keeping track of your payments can be tricky if you’ve signed up for multiple services.
  • It could affect your loan applications for a car or mortgage as lenders consider buy now pay later spending just as much as your credit score.
  • Late repayments can appear on your credit report, which affects your ability to borrow money in the future.
  • Layby can be a cheaper alternative to buy now pay later, with no account-keeping or late fees to consider

If you are someone who could make use of BNPL services, you may wish to:

  • Ensure that when using the BNPL service, you stick to a set limit on what you spend so that you can comfortably pay it back later. 
  • Aim only to have one BNPL account at a time to manage payments through, rather than confuse yourself with multiple payments across different providers.
  • Always budget for bills, loan payments and BNPL payments, and 
  • Rather than use your credit card for payments to your BNPL account, consider linking to your debit account instead.

If you would like assistance in planning your financial future, help in managing your budget or some friendly advice, see us for a chat about what we can do for you.

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Jane Noller has been my accountant for the last 15 plus years. I can testify to Jane’s professionalism and expeditious manner in dealing with the day to day issues that surrounds our business accounting.

John Briggs

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