Maureen: Our members are very excited about SBR. It's something they've been crying out for, for a long time to make it easy to deal with government.
Peter: Over the years we've had more and more red tape added to us: superannuation, GST, pay as you go tax, paid parental leave, the list goes on. But Standard Business Reporting means that you press a few buttons and its done.
Vicki: As soon as you tell people that it's going to reduce the compliance burden they become very interested in how – how is that going to happen, how does it work?
Maureen: Basically anything relating to an employee that the government needs to know comes from the payroll department. We have to issue of course payment summaries at the end of financial year. Every month we have to report to the state revenue offices in relation to payroll tax, we have to report to workers comp bodies in relation to premiums, so the reporting burden is quite large.
Peter: The stress from worrying have I got it in, am I in in time, have I got the information right, have I posted it, did I do this, did I do that. It takes a lot of that stress away. It'll save an awful lot of time, because you're not doing six different reports and you're not saying six different things.
Vicki: Overall it's a very large compliance burden for our members. Forty percent of them are in practice so they have to report to the ATO, they have to report to ASIC and various other regulATOrs. You get a lot of comments from members about how onerous the compliance burden is for them.
Maureen: It's a big headache to do government reporting using the government forms because the governments don't have standardised forms. For example in payroll tax some government departments say we want you to include wages, bonuses, commissions in this box and others say no, we want wages, allowances in this box and bonuses in another box. So just making sure that you report to the government agencies in the right way using the right information in the right box is a significant burden and very confusing.
Peter: One of the big things it's going to help is with tax file number lodgements. So especially if you're in a business with a bit of a turnover like hospitality and cafes and those sorts of things, you're forever chasing people for their tax file number, you've got to sign it, you've got to stick it in a envelope, and send it off, it takes a lot of time and effort to do what's required of us and that's where Standard Business Reporting is going to be a very good solution to that problem.
Vicki: It's a way of reporting to government in a very, very simple, cost effective way. They can report one set of information instead of having to report it repeatedly to all the different agencies and for all the different purposes using all the different forms, so I effectively sort of talk about it as an electronic post box.
Maureen: As soon as it was announced probably five years or so ago, we were on board, saying yes our members want this, our members need this. Please get it up as quickly as you can.
Peter: The other good thing is the management of other bits of red tape coming out of states: payroll tax, which doesn't affect a lot of small business but when it does, it is such a nuisance. That's a thing that we'll be able to do through Standard Business Reporting.
Maureen: They believe that it's going to really save them a lot of time, it recognises that they're not data entry operators. They're professionals who know their job and they don't need to re-key things three or four times to every government department.
Vicki: We've certainly had a demand from various discussion groups within our membership – we've got some really active groups out there right across Australia, and we've had members approach us within those groups who've been quite happy to try out some of the software. It's been all very positive, they've happy to come out and say oh yes its quite easy, its not that heard, it's not expensive, because sometimes you get accountants of course worrying about the dollars. There was concern earlier on about does that mean we have to buy new software or updates or whatever, and it's been shown that that's not the case.
Peter: Certainly people with a high turnover of staff, or people with a lot of staff, people who have a lot of customers coming in and out the door, will benefit from it as well because the data will be gathered by your software system and you'll press a few buttons and it will move through the system to the tax office.
Maureen: With the taxonomy of SBR, or the programing of it, it actually gives you confidence that the information is in there and it's correct, because you already have the standards set up.
Vicki: What we've seen also is sort of a parallel development between IFRS – that our members and accountants in this country have to adopt and apply, and the development and the introduction of SBR. So we've found that the parallel sort of development of those two has been really, really beneficial for our members.
Peter: Saves time and stress. End of story. And that's what its meant to do. There's a process of getting there, but we in small business understand the process of getting there. But it does, once you've done it, it'll save time and it'll save stress.
Maureen: SBR is time saving, harmonising, standardising, professionalising.
Vicki: Simple, cost effective, and reducing the compliance burden.
- Maureen Martin, the Association for Payroll Specialists (New South Wales, Australia);
- Peter Strong, Council of Small Business of Australia (Australian Capital Territory);
- Vicki Stylianou, Institute of Public Accountants (Victoria, Australia).