Xero Tax is known as the go-to solution for many Australian accountants at this time of year, but what’s less known is that it’s also a powerful tool for bookkeepers year-round. This week we spoke with Kirsten Norman, BAS agent and founder of Biz Whiz Business Solutions, about Xero Tax. Kirsten has been using the product since 2016.
“I actually wish I had started using it sooner,” says Kirsten, who employs a virtual team of five bookkeepers that serve clients across Australia and New Zealand. “I could have saved myself a lot of time and administrative work: no more fussing about with paperwork, chasing clients for signatures and keeping a manual log of what has been lodged.”
Kirsten says that with further lockdown restrictions in Victoria, bookkeepers and accountants are forced to work remotely. That means the use of processes around client lodgements may no longer be feasible or secure.
“Xero Tax means my team is all working in the same system for our lodgements. I have a great overview of what stage we are at in the process of lodging everyone’s BAS, and I can see when they are ready for my final review. We can work as a team no matter where we are and everyone knows exactly what needs to be completed, reviewed, signed or lodged at any given time.”
Slip of the finger
Xero Tax downloads the lodgements that BizWhiz agents need to submit and puts them into draft for the team to start on. It then imports client data directly from Xero for the lodgements, allows BizWhiz to send the lodgements for electronic signature, and sends reminders. Then with the press of a button, Xero Tax sends the lodgement directly to the ATO, keeps an audit trail, and saves the lodgement against the client file.
“It the first platform that we’ve ever seen that allows us to centralise, systemize and automate the bulk of our lodgement process,” says Kirsten. “It removes so many manual processes and basically makes our lives a heck of a lot easier.”
Prior to Xero Tax, Kirsten says she was preparing the BAS in Xero. This involved exporting it, creating a cover letter and authority for each client, and uploading it to DocuSign to be sent for authorisation.
The BizWhiz team would then have to monitor who had returned the authority before logging into the ATO portal and manually enter the figures. They would then download the lodged BAS and send it back to the client showing it as lodged. They would then save everything to their file.
“What a nightmare process,” says Kirsten. “I always worried about manually entering figures into the ATO portal – too easy to make an error with a slip of the finger.”
A perfect time
Kirsten initially held back from using Xero Tax because she thought it would take her bookkeeping staff too much time to set up. In fact, it took just half a day.
“Now’s a perfect time to start,” Kirsten encourages. “You can use it for your September monthly lodgements, and you’ll have everything in one place for the new financial year.”
Kirsten’s advice: Set yourself a date that you will start using Xero Tax. You can reach out to your Xero account manager and the helpful Xero Partner community on Facebook with any questions.
Kirsten joined us for our latest Xero Tax webinar to talk about best practice in bookkeeping jobs in Xero Tax, which you can watch here. For more on how to get the most out of Xero Tax for BAS Agents sign up for our next webinar.