The new Simpler BAS provisions are not all they seem, with bookkeepers attacking the reform as being “not as simple as the ATO make[s] it out to be”.
Carbon Group managing partner Jamie Davison has questioned the ATO’s introduction of Simpler BAS and whether it has actually reduced red tape facing small businesses.
The ATO rolled out Simpler BAS on 1 July 2017 as the default method for small businesses with a GST turnover of less than $10 million, with the need to only report on G1 total sales, 1A GST on sales, and 1B GST on purchases.
Further GST information such as G2 export sales, G3 GST-free sales, G10 capital purchases, G11 non-capital purchases are no longer required.
However, Mr Davison said that bookkeepers and business owners alike have not stood to benefit much from the changes.
“It seems like in the background, you still have to calculate all the things that you did before but all you’re doing is filling out less fields, but to arrive at those fields you still have to do everything as you did before,” said Mr Davison.
“The end product is that you’re just filling in less but to arrive at the end product you still have to calculate everything else anyway.
“We’re finding that it probably takes longer to do the Simpler BAS than what it takes to do the traditional way.”
While the changes were aimed at reducing the complexity of GST bookkeeping for small businesses, Mr Davison said he has yet to notice such an impact.
“It hasn’t really made a difference for businesses and we haven’t seen any clients leave and say, ‘now the BAS is simpler we’ll just do it ourselves’,” he said.
“I would’ve thought that might have happened but it hasn’t even appeared in any small business’ radar at this stage.”
Further, Mr Davison believes the ATO’s decision to change its portals during the introduction of the Simpler BAS has added to the frustration felt by bookkeepers on the ground.
Institute of Certified Bookkeepers executive director Matthew Addison was similarly critical of the ATO’s delivery.
“Efficiency will occur when the ATO deliver their promise of co-designed features of business and intermediaries interacting with the ATO, be it through the promised enhanced business and agent portals or be it through a far better set of ATO services delivered through business software,” Mr Addison said.
“Every time the ATO releases these “features” without proper co-design they create a nightmare for tax practitioners and businesses.
“[The Simpler BAS] concept is exactly right and delivers a better GST reporting system, however the ATO portal delivery created confusion and extra work and their SBR delivery has not been smooth.”