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How to Take Control of Compliance Costs
By: Julia Katrich, Rubiix Pty Ltd
Whilst the costs of running a small business in Australia continue to climb, it makes sense to look at ways you can limit the chances of receiving a whopping bill from your accountant.
Here are some ideas you can use to ensure your accounting and compliance fees are kept to a minimum.
The fee structure of all tax agents is to charge by the hour with rates scaling upwards from junior to senior staff. Because of this, many people are put off by their perception of high fees and potentially forgo greater value from accountant’s services in the future.
So is it all doom and gloom or can business owners start to take control of compliance costs?
Here are a few tips on how to keep your accounting fees to a minimum:
Make the most of the first meeting
When searching for an accountant, look for professionals who offer the first meeting for free. Make use of this time by asking lots of questions about the firm, your own situation and any additional resources which may help you in your business. The more information you can obtain in the initial meeting, the fewer questions you will have down the track, saving time on additional phone calls in the future.
Invest in a good software package
The most efficient way to keep good records is to invest in a user-friendly software package which suits the needs of your business. In today’s market there are ample low cost options to perform all the necessary functions. When selecting a software package, consider who will be using it, what functions are important and the security of data. Software with online access will save you time on data entry by feeding bank statements straight into the software, as well as allowing your accountant to access your records online.
Provide clear, detailed information upfront
Having well-organised records will minimise the time your accountant spends reviewing and understanding them. When you record transactions, provide as much detail as possible by utilising the “memo” or “description” fields. Prior to submitting documents to your accountant, ask them for a customised list of information they require. The less time they spend looking for answers, the lower your bills will be at the end of the job. Future question time can also be reduced by informing your accountant upfront about unusual activities, such as a purchase of a new motor vehicle, new loans, grants and other significant changes in the business.
Reply promptly to your accountant’s queries
No matter how much information you provide, a good accountant will have questions after they have reviewed your records. Most inefficiencies arise when clients take a long time to respond to queries. The cost of putting down a job and then having to revisit it will be passed on to the client, increasing the initial expectation of fees.
Maintain regular communication
Despite the charge-by-the-hour nature of accounting, one phone call today can avoid numerous phone calls in the future to work out a particular issue. Transparent and frequent communication will reduce your risk of additional dollars on your bill because of misunderstandings or lack of information.
Some people may regard a visit to their accountant much like a visit to their dentist: painful and expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. Armed with well-prepared records, a good accountant will work with you to save you tax and improve your business for a reasonable fee.