The lead up to the introduction of the GST was a boon for anybody with a localised accounting package, and MYOB in particular took full advantage of it. Now that companies have all undergone the rigours associated with presenting their first business activity statement (BAS) some are taking a second look at their accounting software.
Those that opted for cheaper packages or for minor upgrades may be having second thoughts because the software they have installed is not providing them with the data they require to fill out their BAS.
MYOBs newly released First Accounts 3.5 has been upgraded to include a BASlink tool that will help the small business or home office operator fill out their BAS or installment activity statement (IAS) and lodge it electronically. The one thing it will not do is to print out completed BAS forms, but that is not MYOBs fault. The Australian Taxation Office requires that paper versions of the BAS be completed by hand on their special forms. However, you can print out a replica and copy the details over to the official form.
The key is finding the information in the first place and MYOB assists by providing an on screen replica of the BAS form with radio buttons beside each of the areas that require information.
BASlink has to be set up to suit the requirements of your business. However, it comes with clear instructions on how to do it, including a video that explains exactly what information the taxman requires.
Even so it can be daunting for many people and it is worth getting an accountant or MYOB consultant to customise the setup for you, because once it is done completing a BAS or IAS should be as easy as clicking on a few buttons. To make it even easier it will search for errors as it goes, so there is still the opportunity to pick up any mistakes that might have been made in the BAS period. Of course, it can only work on the information the user has provided it and that requires mastering the basic accounting program.
First Accounts is designed for business people with only rudimentary bookkeeping experience and attempts to keep everything in relatively plain English. It uses terms like spend money and receive money and where ever possible links entries so that if you pay a bill, for instance, it will automatically update the account you are paying it from, the creditor account and any other linked entries, including any tax liabilities.
The online tutorial is well put together, although it can be confusing at times because it appears to give contradictory information on how to enter dates and amounts. A single instruction may repeat a date in two or more formats such as 01/01/00 and 1/1/2000, leaving the user confused as to which format they should use. However, it does not matter because MYOB will interpret almost any date format and standardise them. The same happens with amounts. It will accept 30000, 30,000 and $30,000.00 and read them correctly.
The key to successfully using a program such as this is to work out just how much of it you require and customise it to suit your particular business. First Accounts helps to some extent by offering dozens of templates designed for specific occupations and business types, however, there is room for even more customisation, some of which can help save costs in day-to-day transactions.
For example electronic bill paying can save the cost of cheques if you are set up for electronic banking and know what bank your clients want their accounts paid to. Alternatively, it is easy enough to set it up to print your cheques.
What is particularly likeable about this program is how it automatically generates tax invoices, calculating the tax as it goes. It handles tax codes simply and clearly and will take into account tax free transactions such as exports, automatically allocating the appropriate tax code according to the client information recorded in the client card index. It also can be set up to generate reminder letters for slow payers.
Overall it is a well-rounded package that makes a potentially very complex job as simple as possible.