Monday, December 13, 2010

Lodgement becomes a reality

The live links for GovDirect went up on 1 December and we are now processing a number of BAS's and TFN Declarations on behalf of subscribers. The pleasing aspect is in that time not a single support enquiry has hit our support desk. Now I dont anticipate this to be the norm, especially when we start to process the more complicated forms such as the Income Tax Return, but it is vindication of the hard work the team have put in to make the application as simple as possible to use and to keep the more technical aspects of the technology tucked away under the hood.

From an XBRL purist point of view this should be seen as somewhat of a milestone. We actually have users of XBRL technology who have not had to spend hours upon hours studying what a "taxonomy", "context", "dimension" or an "instance" is!

With our early adopter program well underway we will be looking for as much feedback as possible in order to improve the user experience as well as present a series of case studies to share with those inquisitive businesses out there who want to know "what's in it for me".

From what we have observed so far, the WIFM is:
  • Save time by lodging the TFN Dec electronically, rather than handwriting the details into a paper version of the form.
  • Same for the BAS or if you are re-entering the details in the ATO's Business Portal, why not interpose GovDirect in the process to prefill the form from your accounting system and the ATO.
I'm sure this list will grow longer as we add more forms and additional functions such as the ability to invite your advisor to review and lodge information on your behalf.

Feel free to comment on this blog post if you have anything to share on how you're using GovDirect to save time and money or what you would like to see added.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dispelling some SBR software myths

Last week was a busy week for the GovDirect team culminating in a presentation I made to the Public Practice Advisory Committee from the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

This group represents the public practitioners who are 'would be' adopters of SBR enabled software. And even though I was there to provide an update on what is happening in SBR, I couldn't help myself and threw in a plug for GovDirect. When I took the audience through both the SBR and GovDirect websites I got a sense of cautious optimism in terms of the value that solutions like GovDirect can deliver to advisors and their clients. But as with adoption of any new technology there is a little confusion over what the practicalities of SBR are....

For advisors:

AusKey replaces the ATO's digital certificate you need to sign on to the Tax Agent Portal and indeed how you verify your identity when lodging information via ELS. AusKey becomes the credential advisors and their clients need to verify their identify for participating government agencies and replaces the need to keep separate usernames and passwords for each agency.

SBR is not another government web portal. SBR uses a standard message format that all participating government agencies can read from your SBR enabled software. Practically what this means for tax agents is there will be nothing different to the way in which you prepare a form for lodgement; only the way in which that form is transformed into a message to be sent to the receiving agent, the same as ELS does with existing software.

Solutions like GovDirect offer an alternative to tax agent's existing software by offering more forms (i.e. all the payroll tax forms and employment forms such as the TFN Declaration Form, ETP and annual payment forms) and the ability to connect you (as the agent) to your clients via the form being lodged; i.e. your clients can prepare the form from their accounting system (such as MYOB or QuickBooks) and you can review and comment on the accuracy of the information in the form without having to ask for the file. Once you're satisfied the form is complete, you or your client can lodge the form direct to government using an AusKey as the means to identify who submitted what and when.

For business:

Many of the forms you submit to government today will be paper based. However using SBR enabled software you will now be able to submit these electronically direct from your accounting or payroll system. For example, where you employ someone new in your business you will have to:
  1. Request a TFN Declaration Form from the ATO, then once you've received the form,
  2. Have the employee complete their details and provided these details are correct,
  3. Complete the payer section and post the form to the ATO.
Using GovDirect, there is no need to request the form and then most of the fields within the form are pre-filled with information from your accounting system and then validated to ensure the form's accuracy before you lodge. The same principle applies for all the forms in scope of SBR, allowing you and/or your advisor to spend less time collating the information to be lodged and more time analysing what it means to your business.

For the techies:

On its own, tagging financial information using the SBR Taxonomy in an XBRL format will not meet the requirements of SBR. You still need to use the web services to transport the required information from your system to SBR Core Services. At the very least this will require you to become familiar with the information available on the SBR website under the Developers section. GovDirect uses these web services and can be configured to either query accounting system databases or transform the mapped XBRL instance into the appropriate message. To reporting businesses and their advisors it should make no difference.

The key to adoption of SBR is all of the above groups working together towards a harmonised vision, i.e. to reduce the reporting burden for business.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A new way to connect to government

Today we launch a new product to support businesses and their advisors meet the requirements of reporting to Government. GovDirect is a software as a service product that eliminates the need to re-key data in government forms such as the Business Activity Statement and Tax File Number Declaration form by connecting to the source accounting systems (e.g. MYOB and QuickBooks). Once the form is complete GovDirect provides the mechanism to lodge the form direct to the relevant Government agency.

The benefits for business are obvious. You save time in filling out the form manually or if you use the Business Portal for the ATO you dont need to transpose information. All of your records are stored centrally so you know exactly what your obligations are across a number of government agencies including the ATO, ASIC and State Revenue Offices and more importantly when something is due. If you get stuck with something you can also connect to your accountant or bookkeeper and discuss what needs to be done to complete the form - your advisor sees what you see.

GovDirect uses the government's new authentication tool, AusKey, to engage the new online channel developed by the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) program. SBR, if you haven't heard of it, is a whole of government program designed to reduce the reporting burden of business. Check out their website at for full details.

GovDirect will be available for download soon, just in time to complete the June 2010 BAS. But it you want to try before you buy, we offer a 30 day trial to all new subscribers.

We would love to hear from everyone who is interested in our product and the SBR program so comment on this blog post, follow us on twitter, become a friend on facebook or join our linked in group.