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BAS Agent’s Blog

Client Agent Linking – Issues & Challenges

Client Agent Linking (CAL) has been in action since 13 November 2023. CAL was created to reduce identity-related fraud attempts, including criminals taking over agents’ identities. CAL ensures that a client has authorised an agent to access his/her tax records. Before CAL, all an agent had to do was enter a client’s ABN into their Online Services for Agents portal to connect himself to the client. This connection method has become very unsafe since ABN data is easily attainable on the ABN Lookup site. This has meant that criminals could easily create a scenario where clients’ data is compromised and misused.

No one disputes that creating a process whereby clients’ data is kept secure and criminal activity is kept to a minimum, is warranted. As cybercrime increases, the more we can use technology to help us fight the war, the better! CAL is part of this technology arsenal, however, since its live delivery, both agents and clients alike are finding that from a practical perspective, CAL is less than perfect! Many issues and challenges have arisen as a result of CAL. Some of these are described below.

Issues and Challenges for Clients

  • CAL requires the set up of myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM). Some clients find setting this up difficult and even harder to access help from the ATO.
  • The process is quite complicated. It involves setting up a myGovID, linking the ABN to the myGovID in RAM, logging into Online Services for Business (OSB), nominating a new agent and finally advising the agent that the nomination has occurred.
  • The above process is made more difficult if a financial structure is complicated e.g. involves trusts, self-managed super funds etc
  • CAL requires some level of technological expertise and experience which is not available to all clients.
  • Setting up a myGovID requires strong identification proof which includes a passport. Not everyone has a passport and applying for one is difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Currently, there isn’t any process available to clients who do not have a passport.
  • For CAL to work, a client’s Australian Business Register (ABR) must be current and up to date. A client must access his/her ABR and update the details before beginning the CAL process. This means more time and more frustration.
  • Setting up CAL must be done by the client only. Agents cannot assist the client for security reasons. If a client is not tech-savvy or doesn’t understand the steps required, not being able to ask their agent for help is an issue!
  • Clients can ring the ATO for assistance in setting up CAL, however, this can be very time-consuming.
  • If a client cannot complete the CAL, he/she won’t be able to use an agent for tax lodgements. If this occurs, lodgements will be late and tax payments will be on hold. As a result, such clients may face penalties from the ATO (even though this situation isn’t their fault!). Clients will be forced to process their lodgements via OSB themselves. Of course, some clients are capable of self-lodgement, however, the more complex their tax situation, the less likely they will want to attempt lodgements without some advice and assistance for fear of making errors etc. These are the clients who will fall through the cracks!
  • If a client wants to change from one agent to another but cannot action CAL successfully, the client will be forced to remain with the original agent. This isn’t ideal if the client/agent relationship has broken down.

Issues and Challenges for Agents

  • A major issue for BAS agents is losing access to current clients in Online Services for Agents (OSFA). This occurs when a tax agent uses the wrong identifier when setting up a new client for income tax lodgements. The correct identifier is the tax file number but many tax agents enter the client’s ABN instead. When an ABN is chosen, this instantly removes the BAS agent’s access to the client. This is frustrating for both the BAS agent and the client because to link to the client again, the client has to go through the CAL process even if the BAS agent and the client may have been engaged for many years! I have been told anecdotally that this is also happening between BAS agents. For example, if one BAS agent is responsible for payroll and another for BAS lodgement, each time payroll is lodged via STP or a BAS is lodged, each agent removes the other from OSFA – crazy stuff! As you can imagine, this is very frustrating for clients but can also create friction between agents. The whole tax landscape is on a slippery slope due to CAL!
  • Following the above issue, if a tax agent uses the ABN as the identifier in OSFA for a new client, s/he will not see the option to add the income tax account for that client. In this case, the tax agent must ask the new client to perform the CAL process again. As you can imagine, this will be very frustrating for the new client – not a great way to begin the client-agent relationship! Tax agents need to understand that using the TFN identifier provides them access to all client accounts i.e. income tax, FBT and ICA (BAS).
  • BAS agents are losing clients to tax agents as a result of CAL. The complexity of CAL for some clients is forcing them to remain with a tax agent to lodge all tax liabilities even if they would like to engage a BAS agent to assist them with BAS, bookkeeping and payroll. Clients can’t be bothered to go through the CAL process for every agent so they are taking the easy way out and asking their tax agents to do the lot!
  • Some agents find that CAL is taking too much of their time (for which most are not charging). Even though agents cannot assist clients with CAL, clients are asking for help nonetheless. Until the CAL process is improved, many agents have decided against engaging new clients.
  • All agents, BAS or tax are losing work because potential and current clients find CAL too complex and time-consuming. Some clients are avoiding navigating the CAL process and are instead choosing to go it alone. This is not ideal for agents wishing to build their client base or for clients who need tax assistance and advice (which is most of them!).
  • When a client successfully links to a new agent, the client must contact the agent to advise him/her. From there, the agent can accept the new client in OSFA. If, however, the client does not advise the agent or the agent doesn’t receive/read the message in the current time frame (currently 28 days), then the CAL is reset and the whole process will have to begin again. A better notification system is required here.

As you can see, many issues and challenges are being met by agents and clients due to CAL. This situation has occurred because CAL was not fully tested at the time of its release. I believe more testing, research and education should have been carried out before going live. While it works on the whole, for those clients with complex tax needs or who are technology-challenged, CAL is too hard! Until these issues are resolved, I believe CAL should be removed. If this does not happen, agents will lose work, clients’ lodgements and payments will stop and the tax industry as a whole may implode! Hopefully, the ATO will review their decision to continue to implement CAL without first resolving these issues.

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Client Agent Linking in Online Services

What is Client Agent Linking?

Client Agent Linking is an ATO initiative intended to improve security over client identity and limit OSFA (Online Services for Agents) fraud by agents, their employees, and other authorised persons. From November 13, 2023, if you want to engage a new BAS or Tax agent to act on your behalf, you will need to nominate them in your Online Services for Business. This is known as “Client-Agent Linking”.

Why is Secure Client Agent Linking Important?

The intended outcome of this new process is to reduce fraud and identity theft and improve data security. By strengthening the security of this process, all parties involved – including you, your agent, and the ATO, can have confidence that you, the client, and not a fraudulent person, have authorised an agent to act on your behalf. 

Rollout of Client Agent Linking Process

The ATO has implemented a phased rollout of the client-to-agent linking process. The following businesses and organisations are currently included in the rollout or will be soon:

  1. Public and multinational businesses who are part of the Top 100 and Top 1,000 – effective from 19 June 2022.
  2. Most public and multinational businesses – effective from 13 December 2022.
  3. Businesses in the Top 500 privately-owned wealthy groups, where that group has a significant level of ownership of the business – effective from 13 December 2022.
  4. Government entities – effective from 24 February 2023.
  5. All types of entities with an Australian Business Number (ABN) excluding sole traders – effective from 13 November 2023.

Please note that the client-to-agent linking process does not currently apply to individual taxpayers. However, from 13 November 2023, it will apply to all types of entities with an ABN, excluding sole traders.

Nominating a New Agent

When you intend to do either of the following, you need to nominate or link the agent. 

  1. Engage a new tax or BAS agent, or payroll service provider to represent you.
  2. Provide extra authorisation to your existing authorised agent, such as representing you for a new obligation like activity statements or a new entity in your group.

You can do this by using the new agent nomination feature in Online Services for Business (see the steps below).

Once you complete the agent nomination, you must let your agent know that you have nominated them as he/she will not receive any notification from the ATO. The agent will have 28 calendar days to add you to his/her client list in Online Services for Agents or Practice Software.

Steps to Nominate a New Agent

  1. From the Online Services for Business home page:
  2. Select Profile, then Agent details at the Agent nominations feature, and select Add
  3. On the Nominate agent screen, go to Search for an agent
  4. Type your agent’s (or payroll service provider’s) registered agent number (RAN) or practice name and select Search
  5. Select the agent you want to nominate (if multiple results are returned, select the correct agent)
  6. Check that the agent’s details are correct
  7. Complete the declaration by selecting Submit. You’ll now see your agent’s details listed under Agent Nominations.
  8. Let your agent know that you have nominated them!
  1. How to nominate an agent in online services for business (download)
  2. The agent nomination process explained
  3. Troubleshooting guide for agents
  4. How to set up myGovID
  5. Online services for businesses
  6. Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM)
  7. Link your myGovID to your ABN
  8. For agents – think before you link!


The Client-to-Agent linking process strengthens security measures for you and your business, agents, and the ATO. It not only protects your business but also safeguards your sensitive information from fraudulent attempts and uses in identity theft. By following the steps to link to a new agent, you can embrace a more secure digital landscape for your business and your agent/s.

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Which of the Three Fair Work Information Statements do you need to give to your employees? One or all three?

Once upon a time, there was only one Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS). But now there are three of them! As an employer, you need to know which one to give to your employees. This could be only one depending on your employment situation, or all three. But before we look at the three statements, let’s quickly revisit the background of the FWIS for those who may not be across it.

The FWIS provides information to new employees about the conditions of their employment, including details about the National Employment Standards. The FWIS must be given to new employees before or as soon as they begin working for you.

3 Fair Work Statements

As mentioned above, there are now three statements. Let’s look at each one separately.

1. The Fair Work Information Statement. This is the most well-known statement as it has been around for some time now. The FWIS has information on:

  • the National Employment Standards
  • right to request flexible working arrangements
  • modern awards
  • making agreements under the Fair Work Act 2009
  • individual flexibility arrangements
  • freedom of association and workplace rights (general protections)
  • termination of employment
  • right of entry
  • the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission.

2. The Casual Employment Information Statement. The CEIS has information about:

  • the definition of a casual employee
  • when an employer has to offer casual conversion
  • when an employer doesn’t have to offer casual conversion
  • when a casual employee can request casual conversion
  • casual conversion entitlements of casual employees employed by small business employers
  • the role of the Fair Work Commission is to deal with disputes about casual conversion.

Employers aren’t required to give casual employees the CEIS more than once in any given 12-month period (for example, if an employer employs a casual employee temporarily at different stages in one 12-month period, they only need to give them the CEIS once. However, it should be noted that large employers (15 or more employees) must give the CEIS to employees every 6 months. Still, small employers (15 or fewer employees) must provide the CEIS every 12 months on the anniversary of each employee’s start date.

3. The Fixed Term Contract Information Statement. The FTCIS has information about:

  • what a fixed-term contract is
  • limitations on the use of fixed-term contracts
  • exceptions to the limitations
  • how to resolve disputes about fixed-term contract limitations and exceptions.

How to Give these Statements to your Employees

Fair Work states that you may provide these statements in a variety of ways:

  • in person
  • by mail
  • by email
  • by emailing a link to this page of their website
  • by emailing a link to a copy of the FWIS available on the employer’s intranet

Depending on the employment status of your employees, you may need to provide the FWIS only. However, if you employ a mix of employees i.e. full-time, part-time, casual, and/or fixed-term contract, it may be necessary to provide all three statements as described above. Remember, providing the FWISs is not optional – it is compulsory. Failure to do so may incur penalties – see here.

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How to Series No 4 – How to Account for Hire Purchases

This is the fourth part in a series I’m calling “How-To”. The first part was about insurance bills, the second part was about VicRoads registration bills and the third part was about chattel mortgages. I will be using Xero for the example, but don’t worry if you use another software, the basic rules will still apply. 

The fourth how-to is about how to account for hire purchases in your accounting software. A hire purchase arrangement is an agreement to purchase goods in instalments.

Step 1

Let’s pretend that your business has purchased a new printer with all the bells and whistles for $15K via a hire purchase agreement, plus $5,000 interest.  For this example, the hire purchase is for 30 months without a residual (balloon) payment at the end of the period. Note, that most hire purchase agreements will include a balloon component (check your documentation). The first thing to do is collect all of the documentation. You will need the hire purchase agreement, the invoice, and the interest amortisation schedule. The hire purchase company will provide all of this to you at the point of purchase. To begin the process, create some accounts in your accounting software:

  • Office Equipment (Asset GST Inc)
  • Hire Purchase Unexpired Interest (Liability GST Inc)
  • Hire Purchase Liability (Liability BAS Excluded)
  • Interest Expense – Hire Purchase (Expense BAS Excluded)

Note, For any Hire Purchase Agreement made after 1/7/2012, both the purchase price of the asset and all interest charges and fees are subject to GST. (see notes at the end of the blog)

Step 2

Now you can enter this journal which adds the purchase of the printer into the accounts:

Check your balance sheet. It should look like this:

Step 3

When it comes time to record the first repayment to the finance company, your entry will look like this (assuming each repayment is $500 (30 x $500 = $15K)). Note, that the tax code for the interest expense account is BAS Excluded. This is because the GST on the interest component of the hire purchase was claimed when the purchase was entered initially (see journal). Therefore the monthly repayments of interest are not reportable on the BAS.

Step 4

Check that the balances in the balance sheet are reduced by the first repayment – see below. Note that I have evenly split the interest repayments into amounts of $151.51 for this example ($4,545.45 divided by 30 payments). However, you will need to enter the interest amounts as per your amortisation schedule and these won’t be exactly the figures divisible by the number of repayments. Something to keep in mind!

GST rules for hire purchases

For hire purchase agreements entered into on or after 1 July 2012, all components of the transaction are subject to GST including:
• The upfront purchase price of the asset financed under the agreement
• Interest charges, and
• Any other associated fees.

This is the case regardless of whether you account on a cash or accrual basis.

This means that taxpayers on a cash accounting basis can claim the full amount of any available GST credit at the time the first payment is invoiced or paid under the hire purchase.

This was the last part of our How-To series (for now). I hope you found this series useful. For further details about hire purchase agreements and GST, go to this ATO webpage.

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How to Series No 3 – How to Enter a Chattel Mortgage Asset Purchase & Loan

This is the third part in a series I’m calling “How-To”. The first part was about entering insurance bills and the second part was about how to enter a VicRoads registration bill. I will be using Xero to present the example, but don’t worry if you use another software, the basic rules will still apply. 

The third how-to is about how to enter a Chattel Mortgage asset and associated loan into your accounting software.

Step 1

Let’s say your business has purchased a new motor vehicle. The invoice from the vehicle dealer might look something like the below example. Grab your invoice now.

Step 2

The finance company loan schedule is also required. It may look something like the below example. Grab you loan schedule now.

Step 3

Create the following accounts in your software (check first because some may already exist):

  • Deposit Paid (Current Asset) – no tax code
  • Motor Vehicles at Cost (Non-Current Asset) – apply capital expense including GST tax code
  • Chattel Mortgage (Motor Vehicle) (Non-Current Liability) – no tax code
  • Chattel Mortgage Interest Charges (Expense) – no tax code
  • Chattel Mortgage Fees & Charges – tax code varies, could be Free or GST inclusive (check your documentation)
  • Motor Vehicle Registration (Expense) – apply GST Free tax code
  • Motor Vehicle Insurance (Expense) – apply GST inclusive tax code
  • Unexpired Term Interest (Non-Current Liability) – no tax code

Step 4

First enter a spend money transaction to record the payment of the deposit:

Step 5

Next, enter this journal to record the purchase of the new vehicle:

Step 6

When it comes time to make a repayment to the finance company, enter a spend money transaction like this:

Bonus Tip!

Sometimes it isn’t possible to obtain the loan repayment schedule for whatever reason. When this happens, you need to create your own. I use this amortisation calculator by Bret Whissel. It has served me well over the years. I hope you find it useful too.

Next week for part four of this How-To series, I will cover how to set up a Hire Purchase agreement in your accounts. Until then, happy bookkeeping!

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How to Series No 2 – How to Enter VicRoads Registration Bills

Last week, I started a bookkeeping resource series called “How To”. Each week I will share instructions with you about how to enter some common transactions. I will be using Xero to present the example, but don’t worry if you use another software, the basic rules will still apply. Last week I explained how to enter an insurance bill.

The second how-to is about how to enter a VicRoads registration expense/bill into your accounts.

Step 1

Grab your VicRoads bill and go to the part where it shows you the breakdown of charges. It may look something like this:

Step 2

Log into your software and go to the area where you enter bills.

Step 3

Enter the VicRoads as the supplier, the relevant dates and the reference number or name as below:

Step 4

Enter a line in the bill for each charge shown on the bill. The registration fee is GST-free, the TAC charge includes GST and the insurance duty is BAS Excluded. If you are entitled to claim 100% of motor vehicle costs in your business, then you can claim the full GST amount on the TAC charge. Time and time again, I see clients entering the full amount of the registration expense as GST-free. While they are partly right, they are also missing out on claiming the GST of the TAC charge. Also, relevant here is the choice of account for expense coding – you may like a general account such as this one “Motor Vehicle Expenses”, or you may like to split your costs out in a more detailed manner and have an account for each type of car expense, in this case, “Motor Vehicle Registration”. It just depends on how much detail you want to see in your profit and loss report.

Step 5

Check that the GST amount agrees with the VicRoads bill. In this case, it is $40.00.

Step 6

Approve the bill to ensure the expense is added to the accounts correctly.

Final words…

So that’s it for this week’s “how-to”. I hope you learned something new. One thing I’d like to add about VicRoads “bills” before I close off this blog, is that to obtain an actual bill, you do have to have an account with VicRoads. They used to send out the document in the mail, but not anymore – it’s all online, like everything these days. Here’s the link to VicRoads where you can make an account if you haven’t already done so.

Bonus Tip!

For any bookkeepers out there who know the pain of not ever receiving an actual VicRoads bill from clients (who probably don’t know how to get it – see notes above), which makes data entry nearly impossible, here is the link to the TAC registration rates for FY24. This document provides the breakdown of TAC and insurance duty fees based on postcode and vehicle type. An excellent resource that I am sure you will use time and time again. There is also an online calculator you can use on the VicRoads website that will provide the figures you need easily. Here is the link for the calculator. Either resource will get you the information you need. You’re welcome by the way!

Next week I will show you how to enter a chattel mortgage loan. Until then, have a happy week.

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How to Series No 1 – How to Enter an Insurance Bill

This week, I am starting a bookkeeping resource series called “How To” (not very original, I know!). Each week I will share instructions with you about how to enter some common transactions. I will be using Xero to present the example, but don’t worry if you use another software, the basic rules will still apply.

So here goes, the first how-to is about how to enter an insurance bill into your accounts the right way.

Step 1

Grab your insurance bill and go to the part where it shows you the breakdown of charges. It may look something like this:

Step 2

Enter a line in the bill for each charge shown on the bill. In this case, there is one for the premium and one for the stamp duty component. Select the insurance account you want to use – you may have one for business insurance and another for motor vehicle insurance etc. Notice that the premium figure is plus GST, whereas the stamp duty is BAS excluded. This is because stamp duty does not attract GST. It is very important to break up your insurance bill like this and to never enter a bill 100% inclusive of GST. Doing so will mean that you overclaim GST in your BAS.

Step 3

Check that the GST amount agrees with the insurance bill. In this case, it is $38.25 which is one cent less than our bill, hence the rounding line I have added to agree the total amount with the supplier’s bill.

Step 4

Approve the bill to ensure the expense is added to the accounts correctly.

Final Words…

So that’s it for this week’s “how-to”. I hope you learned something new. Please note that this insurance example is pretty basic. Some insurance bills have extra charges which may or may not include GST. The trick to getting these sorts of more complex bills entered correctly is to ensure the GST figure in the bill agrees with your software entry. If it doesn’t, you need to check each charge for its GST status i.e. some items will include GST and others may be GST-free or GST-exempt.

Next week I will show you how to enter motor vehicle registration bills. Until then, have a happy week.

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Think you can get away with not paying your employees’ super? Think again!

Employers intentionally not paying their employees’ super has always been a bugbear of mine. If you follow my Twitter (X) account, you may have seen the hashtag I use: “#notyourmoney“. I use this hashtag because I believe that employee superannuation is not your money and never will be and I want to enforce this concept. These irresponsible employers anger me. It is completely wrong to hire people and then fail to fulfill the contract you agreed upon, which includes paying their super. In my opinion, not paying super is equivalent to stealing.

In the past, employers were able to get away with this unacceptable behavior because the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) only found out about it when employees reported them. At that point, the ATO would investigate, audit, and penalise these employers. This reactive approach has resulted in an estimated $2.5 billion shortfall in unpaid super. This is a truly disgraceful situation.

But things are about to change…

In the 2023-24 Federal Budget, it was announced that the ATO will receive $40.2 million for super compliance measures. This funding includes $27 million for data matching capabilities to identify and take action on cases of Superannuation Guarantee (SG) underpayment, as well as $13.2 million for consultation and co-design.

So what does this mean? Who/what will the ATO be data matching with?

Firstly, it is now widely known that the ATO receives payroll data from employers through Single Touch Payroll events (STP). This data includes the superannuation amounts owed to employees’ super funds. The ATO also receives information about employees’ super from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) through the Member Account Transaction Service (MATS). MATS is a reporting service used for more frequent and detailed reporting of member super contributions and transactions. The ATO utilises the information from both sources to identify potential non-compliant behaviour by employers.

With increased funding from the budget, the ATO will intensify data-matching activities between STP and MATS. This shift from a reactive to a proactive approach means that the ATO will be able to initiate audits themselves instead of relying on employees to report non-compliance after the fact.

It is important to note that this data-matching activity is not new. It has been ongoing since 2019, with the ATO reporting a 24% increase in investigations of super non-compliance. What is new is the improved data matching capabilities enabled by better technology and more comprehensive STP data.

The ATO is now more focused than ever on addressing super non-compliance. They have the necessary tools and resources to conduct investigations and audits on a large scale.

This makes me feel more positive about this problem. I sincerely hope the ATO succeeds in its efforts. I have a strong aversion to employers who think they can evade paying super. It is essentially stealing, a white-collar crime. Thanks to the ATO’s real-time monitoring, the likelihood of getting away with non-payment of super is rapidly decreasing. And that is a very good thing!

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Bookkeeping & tax podcasts I love!

Over the last couple of years, I’ve moved away from written content to podcasts as my preferred choice of learning and research. Podcasts are great because you can listen to them at any time, doing anything, and privately, too, if you use earphones or earbuds. I usually walk daily and listen to a podcast at the same time – getting my exercise and racking up CPE points simultaneously – win-win!

I have many interests and there are podcasts for just about any topic you can imagine. Being a bookkeeper, I have found several podcasts about tax and bookkeeping, and over the years, have narrowed the list down to three podcasts that resonate with me the most. Here is my list:

  1. Two Drunk Accountants: This podcast is hilarious! If you thought that accounting and tax topics could never be interesting or even funny, you are in for a big surprise!  Tim Garth and Dan Osborne of CATS Accountants are the voices behind this thoroughly entertaining podcast. I find that I am laughing from beginning to end but am being educated at the same time. I enjoy this podcast and you will too! Here is the link to hear the boys bang on about their industry and their lives in general.
  2. ICB News Channel: The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers has a podcast that is published monthly, based on topics from their newsletter. Rob Marshall, the Support and Resource Manager at ICB, runs the podcast which often includes interviews with current stakeholders involved in the bookkeeping industry. If you want to keep up with the changing face of bookkeeping and also top up your CPE points, this podcast is the one to choose. Find this podcast here.
  3. Tax InVoice: This podcast is delivered by the ATO. Certainly not as entertaining as the Two Drunk Accountants (because let’s face it, “Two Drunk ATO Tax Specialists” doesn’t have the same ring!), the podcast will dot the i’s and cross the t’s so far as covering many tax issues and topics. Covering everything from working from home to crypto assets, Tax InVoice is a purely tax-based podcast but I find it is an easier platform to use to try and understand tax topics which can be difficult to do via written text only. You can find the 50-plus episodes of Tax InVoice here.

I’m sure if you search, you’ll find many other bookkeeping/tax podcasts. As I said earlier, I did follow about 6 or 7 back in the day but have slowly removed the ones that I didn’t find useful or enjoy. There aren’t too many Australian tax podcasts really, so if you do a search, you’ll probably find several American-based ones. These ones have their place, but if you’re after Australian tax information, you need to ensure you choose Australian podcasts. I hope you find this information useful and if you haven’t delved into the world of podcasts yet, perhaps you can start with one or two from my list.

Do you listen to a bookkeeping podcast that you think is great? Why not share it with other readers in the comments section below?

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10 Ways Bookkeepers Can Use ChatGPT

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would undoubtedly have heard the term artificial intelligence or “AI”. AI is the new buzzword and seems to be everywhere you look. In particular, most accounting software, and many other apps have embraced AI and have made it a part of their interface.

While some may be dubious about AI (even afraid), the fact is, that it is here to stay and has been a part of the way we use technology for a long time. Google apps including Gmail and GDrive, apps like “Grammarly” and other apps that make suggestions as you type, for example, are all using AI to enhance the user experience and basically make life easier. 

Given AI is already here and we use it daily (even though we may not be aware of it), I have started to wonder how bookkeepers can use it to assist with daily tasks. To that end, I have done some research into how we can use ChatGPT for this purpose.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-training Transformer. It was launched in November 2022 and is a remarkable text-based chatbot. It enables users to effortlessly type queries and receive accurate answers, as well as efficiently complete tedious tasks. This advanced chatbot is trained with extensive data, allowing it to generate responses that closely resemble human-like interactions. You can download the ChatGPT apps from your favourite app store.

So now that we know what it is, how can bookkeepers use ChatGPT? There are actually many ways to use it, but here are 10 ideas to get you started. 

    1. Writing those “difficult” emails to clients. Sometimes as bookkeepers, we need to tell our clients they have to go, or we are putting our prices up or we found something dodgy in their accounts, etc. Ask ChatGPT to write the email for you by telling it what the email is about. You will receive a professionally written email script in seconds.
    2. Creating Excel formulas. Tell ChatGPT what you want to calculate in a cell or column and provide the data to work with and it will create the formula for you. Here is an example of how this might work.
    3. Creating journal entries. ChatGPT can extract information from receipts, such as dates, seller names, and amounts. Just provide the dataset, and ChatGPT will analyze it and input the client information for you. More specifically, the prompt you would use would be: “Use the following transaction details (add transaction text) and amount to create a journal using these account names (Add accounts) using (Add accounting system)”
    4. Creating checklists and subtasks. Ask ChatGPT to create a list of steps to complete any bookkeeping process. The result can be modified to suit your needs and business. You can also ask it to create subtasks for each of the steps inside a checklist.
    5. Creating client questionnaires. Ask ChatGPT to suggest a list of questions to ask new clients during client onboarding.
    6. Creating client onboarding checklists. Ask ChatGPT to create a checklist for you when onboarding a new client. You can tell it some basic details like number of employees and business structure.
    7. Creating an engagement letter. Ask ChatGPT what to include in an engagement letter for a client with XYZ requirements. Adjust to suit your business requirements.
    8. Staff onboarding checklist and letters of offer. Ask it to create a checklist for onboarding staff either for your business or for a client. Also, ask it to create letters of offer based on the details you provide. Adjust to suit your business.
    9. Creating email templates. Make a list of the type of emails you write continuously e.g. a request for information. Ask ChatGPT to write these emails for you. Update the details to suit your business and then save them as templates.
    10. Creating copy for your blog or website. Tell ChatGPT what you want to write about e.g. ideas for your About Page. Ask it to write you the copy for this page. You can do the same thing for your blogs. Simply provide it with some basic information e.g. how GST applies to food sales in Australia, and ask it to provide you with copy for your blog. Of course, you should check the details it delivers for accuracy and currency before publishing.

    I hope these ideas, or “prompts” as they are known, give you the motivation to start to play around with ChatGPT in your bookkeeping business. Obviously, the sky is the limit regarding what you can do with ChatGPT. I’m sure once you get started, you will discover many more ways to use it in your business. If you would like to share any prompts you currently use with ChatGPT, please add them below in the comments. I’m sure other bookkeepers would love the extra motivation!

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