The one part of my business I hate the most is accounting, marshalling those invoices, expenses and whipping them into order, bringing them into line and making them do the things they need to do. It’s an agonising process and I always look forward to earning enough money to be able to outsource it to a bookkeeper. It’s at this point I need to put a disclaimer. I’m not a bookkeeper or an accountant, this article should not be taken as advice but as a springboard for your own research. I’m making no recommendations here as to which is the right kind of accounting package for your business.
There are so many different accounting packages around it’s really hard to know which one to use. It’s always best to consult your accountant as they can discuss with you the best one and then give you the backup you need in order to be able to work with and understand the package you both choose. I’m going to give you a brief rundown of my research, you can choose not to even read this.
If you’re working on a shoestring budget then there are three free packages to look at. Microsoft Accounting needs MS Office 2007 and comes with any prejudices you might have about Microsoft products. It is written in the USA, presumably for their accounting needs and I suspect it doesn’t have Australian needs in mind. I haven’t checked it out as yet as I don’t have Office 2007 but I suspect it doesn’t have inbuilt processes for BAS and GST. If you’re outside of Australia and interested, the Business Activity Statement is submitted frequently to the Taxation Office (ATO) to advise them of your GST (Goods and Service Tax) payments both in and out. Gnu Accounting goes the opposite way, it uses Open Office and Linux although you can use it on a Windows 32 bit operating system. I have a Windows 64 bit operating system so I can’t try it out on this computer and my old computer is rather dodgy. From the screenshots it looks like it’s designed for the UK system which has VAT, I do wonder if it could be massaged to be for GST but I don’t think it could be used for the BAS. The last one is Free Accounting Software, it appears to be based in Australia and is cloud computing so all your transactions are online. It does allow for GST and might be helpful for submitting your BAS. It has an Accountants directory so you could use the software and also find an Accountant all from the one website.
There are a number of paid accounting packages that can be divided into two droves, those that are installed onto your computer and those that utilise cloud computing. You’ve got all the regular packages here: Quick Books, MYOB and Quicken. Each of these is fairly complex and you can buy packages written with Australian accounting conditions in mind. I’ve heard great things about each of them and have even glanced at them. Some people swear by each of them and others swear at each of them. The last one I have found is called Money Works (link is to International version, there are CAD & US versions), it has a nice, clean website and enables you to select Australia when buying, their prices are then in Australian dollars and include GST. I’m presuming from that information that they support GST recording, presumptions have been wrong in the past.
Here are the online accounting packages. I’m sure there are more but these are just the ones recommended to me in no particular order. Xero uses a dotcom and without signing up I can’t tell if it has BAS or GST reporting/recording facilities, I suspect it has as I was referred to it by Australians. From what I can see Saasu appears to be a good solid accounting package, but I can’t see any evidence of GST information. One thing it does have is support for multi-currencies, I’m sure some of the other packages have this but I haven’t seen it as yet. Support for multi-currencies can be good if you’re working from home for international companies and are paid in different currencies. Nominal is Australian and can support GST. The last one I’ve found is myworkspace. Being in Australia their pricing plan is in Australian Dollars and includes GST so I’ll take a leap here and suggest they understand GST and therefore it’s included in the accounting system.
You need to be aware of your GST and tax requirements. You must register with the Australian Tax Office if your turnover is greater than $75,000, I did hear rumours it had been increased to $150,000 but when I checked with their website it turns out that’s for non-profit organisations such as schools, synagogues, churches, charties and the like. If you’re making that amount of money then you’re definitely best off getting an accountant to help advise you about submitting your BAS, we’re not all experts in this field…I’m speaking for myself here. I so wish I was turning over this amount, I’d be going ‘bookkeeper, here I come’.
Anyway, I wish you luck coralling your paperwork into line. I’m not looking forward to the stocktake this year…on the other hand, I never look forward to stocktake.
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