Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to register for GST?
As a business owner, it's your responsibility to register for GST if your turnover exceeds the $75,000 threshold or is likely to exceed it. It's important to note that business turnover is different to business profit. The turnover is the businesses gross income. The ATO advises that if you've just started a new business and expect it to earn $75,000 or more in its first year of operation, you should register for GST.
What is a Business Activity Statement?
A business activity statement is how you report and pay your business taxes to the ATO. The reason most businesses need to lodge a BAS is to report and pay GST. If you need to complete a BAS, the ATO will send it to you when it is time to lodge. You can choose to self lodge or your can hire a registered BAS agent (bookkeeper or accountant) to prepare and lodge for you.
When is my BAS due?
BAS due dates are:
Quarter 1 (June to Sept) - 28 October
Quarter 2 (Oct to Dec) - 28 February
Quarter 3 (Jan to Mar) - 28 April
Quarter 4 (Apr to June) - 28 July
Registered BAS agents receive a concession for lodgement. This means we are granted an extension on the above lodgement dates. If you think you might not be able to lodge on time, get in touch to see if we can help.
Do I have to include GST on my invoice?
If you are registered for GST, by law you must add 10% GST to all invoices and your invoices should be called "Tax Invoice". If you're not registered for GST, your invoices should not include the any GST or the words "Tax Invoice" - standard invoices are issued.
What records do I need to keep for my business?
Record keeping is an essential part of running your business. It makes good business sense too. Keeping good records helps you:
know how your business is going
keep track of your income and expenses
show banks or lenders how your business is going
make the best use of your registered tax or BAS agent.
Records you need to keep include:
receipts and other evidence of all sales and purchases you made for your business
tax invoices, wage and salary records
all documents about GST
records of the purchase, sale and other costs of any business assets, such as land, buildings or office equipment
all records relating to tax returns, activity statements, fringe benefits tax (FBT) returns, and contributions to employee super.
You must keep your business records for at least five years.
What is the difference between an ABN & ACN?
An ABN is an Australian Business Number. This is a unique 11 digit number given to people carrying on an enterprise. The ABN is issued by the Australian Business Register. It is a publicly accessible record (via ABN lookup online) and identifies your business to the Australian Government and wider community.
An ACN is an Australian Company Number. This is a unique 9 digit number give to every registered company under the Commonwealth Corporations Act 2001. The ACN is issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Which accounting software do you recommend?
Every business and business owner is unique and has specific needs. There are many fantastic cloud based accounting software offerings on the market today. Before we can recommend the right accounting software, we need to get to know you and your business a little better. Key considerations include:
Costs involved - would you prefer inexpensive software or an application that costs more but allows more features?
Usability - How many users need to access the software?
Features - Do you need to manage inventory? Employees and payroll? Accounts payable & receivable? Time tracking and projects?
We collaborate with you to ensure you get the right product in place. While we may be Xero partners and Quickbooks certified advisors, we are independent professionals and wholly believe in recommending the product that is right for the client every time.
What is the most appropriate structure for my business?
If you are starting a business, or running a business and considering a change, you'll need to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each business structure to work out which structure best suits your needs.
There are different taxation implications, legal obligations and potential personal liability for each structure.
The most common structures include:
Sole trader - an individual operating as the sole person legally responsible for all aspects of the business.
Partnership - an association of people, or entities, running a business together, but not as a company.
Company - a legal entity separate from it's shareholders (owners).
Trust - a separate entity that holds property or income for the benefit of others.
It's important to note, you are not locked into any one business structure for the life of your business, before changing it is worth seeking professional advice.
More information can be found via the link below, or book a time to chat with our advisors.
What do I need to consider when taking on an employee?
Whether you are starting, running or growing your own business, you can take on an employee. Before taking on your new recruit, you'll need to consider how busy the job you will need to fill will be. Based on this, will the new employee be a casual, part-time, full-time, contractor, trainee or apprentice or even a temp (through a labour hire firm)? Each employment type brings it's own specific considerations.
Depending on what you decide, additional considerations may include workers compensation insurance, withholding PAYG tax and paying superannuation. The ATO and the government have clamped down hard in recent years on superannuation for employees, irrespective of employment type, generally if you pay an employee $450 or more before tax in a calendar month, you have to pay super on top of their wages.
It's also important to ensure your employee is legally entitled to work in Australia. For more information on this, check out
Once you've decided on the role you are filling and the person you will hire, it's also a really good idea to make sure you are meeting the correct wages and entitlements. Have a look at Fairwork.gov.au for more information.
If all of this is a little bit overwhelming, don't worry, we are happy to help. Book a chat with us via our Contact page.
What steps are involved in starting a business?
Starting your own business can be a really exciting time. Investing your time into some proper planning is integral to turning your dream into a reality. Many new business owners will also attest to the necessity of having to wear many hats. This means, generally in the early stages of business, the business owner will not simply be "on the tools", they will also be the general manager, marketer, salesman, HR manager, practitioner and bookkeeper.
We've listed some key considerations below, this list is by no means exhaustive and we recommend sitting down with an advisor if you are feeling uncertain, need help with registrations or if you have questions along the way.
Have you clearly defined your product and/or service?
Do you know who you are selling to?
How much income will your business need to generate to break even?
Do you know where to find advice & support?
Do you know when your business is a hobby?
Have you written a business plan or a marketing plan?
Do you know which business structure suits your business?
Are you aware of the appropriate registrations & licences required for your business?
Have you registered for an ABN?
Will you need to register for GST?
Have you registered a business name?
Do you understand your taxation obligations?
Have you set up a basic bookkeeping system?
Do you need insurance?
The Australian Government are fantastic supporters of small business and provide some brilliant resources for small business owners. This link provides access to useful checklists and considerations for starting your own business.
How much do you charge?
Oceans Accounting & Advisory offer a wide range of services. We offer both hourly rates and fixed fees for our clients, the fees vary depending on the expertise and time required to complete the work.
For a full and comprehensive price guide, please get in touch via the Contact page.
How do I change accountants?
If you're looking to change accountants, there could be a number of reasons why you have reached this decision. Some of the more common reasons we hear are:
My accountant takes months to do my accounts
My accountant takes weeks to respond
My accountant is a little old school and doesn't like the "cloud"
We can assure you, at Oceans, we are doing our best to break these old routines.
Once you've made the decision to change accountants, the process is really quite simple. The new accountant sends the outgoing firm an "Ethical Letter of Clearance" as a professional courtesy. The outgoing firm should respond to this promptly and forward any requested documentation to the new accountant.