Good records save small businesses

This article is aimed at small business owners and illustrates how keeping good tax records can save time and money, and ultimately contribute to the profitability of the business. It outlines the various benefits to small business and reminds your readers that the ATO is not lenient when it comes to mistakes.

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) many small businesses fail due to poor record-keeping. Aside from legal reasons, there are many financial reasons for making sure your books are in order.

Every small business owner knows that record-keeping can be one of the most time-consuming jobs; usually it’s the first task put aside during busy times which often results in difficulties catching up with the bookwork later.

For example, keeping track of tax, wages, and superannuation payments is nearly impossible if your records are in chaos. High penalties may be applied to any unpaid tax – even for an innocent mistake – but if you can demonstrate that your tax records have been well maintained the ATO is more inclined to leniency.

Good record-keeping is not just about accumulating receipts for tax deductions. Businesses making quarterly income tax payments may be able to reduce their instalment amounts if their records indicate that profits are down from the previous year. Without accurate and up-to-date records this data may not be available.

Other reasons for keeping your accounts in good shape are:

  • managing cash flow;
  • stock purchasing;
  • showing your financial position to lenders or prospective buyers;
  • calculating and lodging superannuation contributions on time; and
  • completing and lodging activity statements on time.

The wisdom of having a professional tax accountant manage your affairs is a given. However, it’s not a productive use of their time if they must sort through a mess of invoices and receipts. Keeping these in order will, in the long run, save your business both time and money.

Finally, keeping good business records is the law. Your business account books, expense and purchase records, income and sales receipts, and any other documents related to preparing your tax return must be kept for a minimum of five years – some even longer.

Situations, where you will have to keep records for longer than the general five-year retention period, including:

If you have any questions about record-keeping or need advice on how to set up a system for managing your records, speak with a professional… but please don’t leave it to the last week of June!

Information on this site may be regarded as general advice. That is, your personal objectives, needs or financial situations were not taken into account when preparing this information. Accordingly, you should consider the appropriateness of any general advice we have given you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on it. Where the information relates to a particular financial product, you should obtain and consider the relevant product disclosure statement before making any decision to purchase that financial product.

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