Professional services firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers and National Australia Bank are targeting the self-employed and operators of micro-businesses through the release of a digital platform that aims to help these groups manage their goods and services tax (GST) compliance and tax lodgements.
Created by NAB Labs and PwC, the Airtax platform digitalises the process for small businesses of collecting paper-based receipts to lodge Business Activity Statements (BAS) and manage GST requirements.
PwC digital director and Airtax product owner Mark O’Neill says the platform is designed with sole traders, coders, designers, developers and other freelance professionals in mind.
GST compliance and tax requirements are complicated for many of those in these industries, he told SmartCompany.
“We try to kind of automate and simplify and provide education to this part of the market,” he says.
For $79 per lodgement, Airtax claims users can complete their BAS in just minutes. The platform is open to all business operators, not just NAB business customers.
Though it may not be the cheapest option, O’Neill believes Airtax’s software and technology is the key point of difference.
“We have developed it to be simple,” he says.
When Airtax users enter expenses, the site or app records data into categories and has integrated intelligence to make the process easier each time, says O’Neill.
PwC estimates that time spent on GST compliance by business operators can average between 160 and 200 hours each year.
It has also found many sole traders don’t realise they have to register for GST and can claim GST credits on business-related purchases.
Council of Small Business Australia chief executive Peter Strong told SmartCompany GST compliance and BAS lodgements can be a challenge for self-employed professionals and micro-business operators across many industries.
“The complication is because you’re doing so many things and when you have a big month in sales with customer invoicing, then you have to do this,” he says.
“The way to fix it is through apps and better software to make it easier because you should be able to do it by just pressing a few buttons.”
Smith and Power Constructions owner Brett Power is self-employed and he told SmartCompany the quarterly BAS lodgement process costs him $50 each time.
The process involves collecting receipts for his bookkeeper, who spends an hour on the lodgement before sending it through to the accountant, who then submits it to the Australian Tax Office seven days later.
But it’s the end-of-year lodgement that really costs him, Power says.
“If I could pay $79 a quarter and at the end of the year you could put it all together and lodge the end-of-year financial, it would save me over $1000 and a lot of headache and time,” he says.
While Airtax does allow business operators to enter quarterly BAS lodgements, it isn’t possible yet to complete an end-of-year lodgement through the site.
“We do provide them information they can use for their end-of-year,” says O’Neill.
“Over time we will be bringing out the ability to do that in the app, we will only be adding to our services over time.”