AN EASY WAY for a small business which is on a cash accounting basis with the ATO, to keep accounts and prepare the quarterly BAS return is:

  1. Bank Account:
    For all business receipts and payments open one business bank account and one credit card account.
    Most small businesses can run their tax accounts on a ‘Cash’ basis. So Sales are what receipts are banked in a period, and Purchases are what money is paid in a period.
  2. Payments:
    1. Internet bank transfer / direct deposit — (1st choice).
    2. Credit Card — (2nd choice).
    3. Cheque (3rd — choice).
    4. Cash (Avoid. If it’s ever necessary, do a bank transfer from the business account to your private account for the exact amount and an appropriate reference to reimburse yourself.
  3. Receipts:
    1. Encourage customers to make payment by direct deposit or bank transfer with their name in the reference field.
    2. Where customers only pay by cheque, bank each cheque separately.
    3. If cash received, a receipt book is needed, and each receipt must be entered in a cashbook, then totalled to the banking for the day.
  4. Download transactions monthly
    1. Use Internet banking to download all transactions for the month from the business bank account and the credit card account, to new files in a folder on your computer.
    2. Folder can be named ‘Bank’ and the files can be ‘Bank0407.csv’ Card0407.csv’ ‘Bank0408.csv’ Card0408.csv’ etc
    3. If downloaded in CSV format (Comma Separated Values) the files can be opened in Microsoft Excel.
    4. Most banks also give options for downloading to other formats, eg Quicken, MYOB, etc. to upload to an accounting package.
    5. Take care that non-business transactions such as transfers to and from a personal bank account are clearly identified. It’s a good idea to save the original downloaded file, then save it again under a different name, without any private transactions in it.
  5. Monthly Summaries
    1. Payments:
      Copy the column of business payments from the bank file and the card file to a new file (say bus0407.xls). Insert a new column in this file for the source, eg ‘Bank’ or ‘Card’ – and if say the Card file is showing payments with a minus sign, first put a formula in a spare column to multiply the payments column by ‘-1’ . You should be able to end up with columns for ‘Source’ ‘Date’ ‘Reference’ ‘Detail’ ‘$ Payment’
    2. Receipts:
      Copy the receipts column from each of Bank and Card files to the file ‘bus0407.xls’ but move the amount column of the receipts one column along. You should be able to end up with columns for ‘Source’ ‘Date’ ‘Reference’ ‘Detail’ ‘$ Payments’ ‘$ Receipts’
    3. Totals:
      Then you can put a formula at the foot of the ‘$ Payments’ and ‘$ Receipts’ columns, covering the rows from the foot to the column headings – something like ‘=SUM(E200:E1)’ and ‘=SUM(“F200:F1)’ if there are 200 rows.
  6. Quarterly BAS (Business Activity Statement)
    1. Consolidate three months Excel worksheets into a quarterly one – or at least the totals so that you have a total payments and total receipts for three months. These are for entry on the BAS as ‘G1 Total Sales’ and ‘G12 Total Purchases’.
    2. Extract a total of receipts and payments on which there was no GST – eg. interest payments, export receipts, etc. Extract a total of capital purchases (car, computer, long term assets). These are for entry on the BAS
    3. Calculate the sub-totals and the GST for each of Sales and Purchases, and the Net GST payable or refundable.
  7. Yearly Accounts
    It’s good practice to analyse payments each month and enter the expenses labels in a column next to the amounts, in preparation for the annual profit and loss statement on which the Tax Return will be based. If you can give your Tax Agent a consolidation of these file, it could help the Tax Return preparation time.
    Of course, if you need stock records, debtors ledger, creditors ledger, you need an accounting package. Most packages will accept input from spreadsheets, text files, Excel or Lotus files.