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BAS Agent’s Blog

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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    Managing myGovID when devices are upgraded or added

    myGovID is an app that allows you to securely access ATO online services. It proves to the ATO that the person attempting to access a service/info is who they say they are – super important in this day and age of constant cyber attacks etc.

    Setting up the app for the first time requires quite a few steps and can be slightly complicated. Sadly, if you buy a new mobile or tablet, or wish to use your myGovID on multiple devices, you will need to set up your myGovID again and re-verify your identity. You cannot just install the app on your new device and expect it to work. Below are the steps you need to follow to solve this issue.

    How to set up myGovID on a new device

    Firstly, you need to select “reset the app” within your myGovID app’s settings.
    Then, select “I am an existing user”.
    Then, follow the prompts to:

    • enter your latest myGovID email address – this is linked to the identity documents you previously verified. Setting up with a different email address will lock your myGovID on all devices and you’ll be unable to use it.
    • re-verify your identity – ATO recommends using the identity documents you previously used.

    For security purposes, you’ll receive an email letting you know your myGovID is active on another device. You can view your myGovID setup history in your app.

    Each time you set up your myGovID, its identity strength is unique to that device. This means if you set up your myGovID on multiple devices, the identity strength will only reflect what identity documents you’ve verified on that device. For example, you could have one device with a Strong identity strength and another device with a Standard identity strength. To access a service with your myGovID, that device needs to meet the minimum identity strength required of that service. Where you’re setting up on a new device, you need to take additional steps if you transferred your app.

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    Upcoming Changes to Workplace Laws

    Fair Work often updates the rules regarding payroll and right now is no different! Several aspects of payroll have or will change in the very near future. Read below for the details.

    1. Small Business Employers Must Offer Paid & Domestic Violence Leave from 1st August 2023

    All employees in the Fair Work system, including part-time and casual employees, will soon have the right to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave within a 12-month period.

    This new entitlement will be available to employees of small business employers (employers with less than 15 employees on February 1, 2023) starting from August 1, 2023. Employees of non-small business employers have already been able to access this leave since February 1, 2023.

    Employees will receive the full 10 days of leave upfront, without needing to accumulate it over time. To help you understand and manage your new responsibilities, access the Fair Work fact sheet here. You can also find a summary of the details in our blog.

    2. Paid Parental Leave Scheme Changes

    From July 1, 2023, there will be some changes to the paid parental leave scheme. One of these changes is that the current 18 weeks of paid parental leave pay will be combined with the current 2 weeks of Dad and Partner Pay. This means that partnered couples and single parents will now be able to claim up to 20 weeks of pay. For more details go to this Fair Work page.

    3. Right to Superannuation in the National Employment Standards (NES)

    Starting January 1, 2024, the National Employment Standards (NES) will have a new provision that guarantees superannuation contributions for employees. This means that employees, employee organisations, and the Fair Work Ombudsman can make sure that employers pay the correct amount of superannuation or address any unpaid amounts under the Fair Work Act. 

    Employers are already required to contribute to superannuation for eligible employees according to existing laws. As long as employers meet their obligations under these laws, they will not be in violation of the NES provision.

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will continue to oversee employer compliance with superannuation guarantee laws.

    4. Changes to Unpaid Parental Leave

    Starting July 1, 2023, the Fair Work Act will bring in more flexibility for employees who take unpaid parental leave. This change is in line with updates to the Paid Parental Leave scheme. Now, employees can take up to 100 days of their 12-month leave entitlement flexibly within 24 months after their child is born or placed with them. This is a significant increase from the previous allowance of 30 days.

    Pregnant employees will also have the choice to access their flexible unpaid parental leave up to 6 weeks before their expected due date.

    Furthermore, employees will no longer be limited to taking a maximum of 8 weeks of unpaid parental leave at the same time as their spouse or de facto partner. Both parents can now take up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave within 24 months of their child’s birth or placement, and they can even apply for a 12-month extension beyond the initial leave period.

    5. Authorised Employee Deductions

    Starting on December 30, 2023, employees will be able to authorise recurring salary deductions from their employers, even if the deduction amounts change. Before, they had to provide a new written authorisation every time the deduction amount changed. With the new law, employees can give a single written authorisation that allows their employer to deduct varying amounts from their salary. The employee can still withdraw this authorisation in writing at any time. It’s worth noting that deductions for specific amounts can still be authorised if they mainly benefit the employee and are provided in writing.

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    Xero Tips and Tricks

    Xero accounting software is intuitive, fun to use, and an integral piece in the financial arsenal of many small businesses.

    Xero has many features and functions and being able to understand them and utilise them correctly is crucial to getting the most out of the product. While most of these features can be learned via Xero’s many blogs, videos, and webinars, it’s often those little unknown tricks and shortcuts that can make all the difference. These tips and tricks not only speed up your work, they just make your bookkeeping life easier – and we all want that!

    Here is my list of useful tips and tricks that I use when wrangling Xero. I’ll try to keep adding new tips etc as I discover them. I hope you find them useful. Feel free to share your favourite tips/tricks in the comments below.

    • Inbuilt Calculator – when inside an invoice or bill, and you are entering figures in a numeric field, you can enter a calculation and press tab or enter and Xero will calculate the result. For example, entering 3+7 and then “Enter” will display as the number 10 in the field.
    • Due Dates – Following on from the above tip, when creating a sales invoice or a bill use the + button in the due date box followed by a number to calculate dates in the future. For example, if the terms are 30 days from the date of the bill enter +30 into the due date box and Xero will calculate the date.
    • Keyboard Shortcuts – To go to bills, invoices, contacts, and other sections quickly, enter the forward slash (/) to open the global search field. Then enter b for bills, or c for contacts, or i for invoices etc. Xero will provide you with a quick link to go to all bills, or all invoices etc.
    • Navigating Reports – To quickly get to the bottom of a page, use the End key. To return to the top of the page, use the Home key. If you have a Mac keyboard without the Home and End keys, use Command and the Up and Down arrows instead.
    • Accounts Watchlist – Keep a closer eye on accounts that matter to you e.g. super to pay, by adding them to your dashboard. Do this by going to the Chart of Accounts, opening the relevant account, and selecting “Add to Dashboard Watchlist”.
    • Accounts Watchlist View – This list is organised alphabetically in Xero but that may not be what you want to see. If you want to see a particular account on the top of the list, simply add an asterisk (*) to the front of the name of the account, and voila, it will move to the top.
    • Find and Recode – If you own your Xero file or have advisor access, you will have access to Xero’s Find and Recode function. You can find this at the bottom of the “Accounting” tab. This function allows you to make changes to transactions in bulk – a great time saver!
    • Rectify Wages & Super Transactions Quickly – Use Find & Recode to quickly identify transactions that have been allocated to Wages and Superannuation expense accounts in error. Payroll entries are not picked up so any transactions that are returned are usually misallocated. Quickly finding and reallocating these can save hours of work reconciling the Wages Payable and Superannuation Payable accounts.
    • Xero Issues – keep the Xero Status page in your favourites list. If you are having any issues with Xero functionality, you should check there first to see if there are any known problems. This will save you from submitting a support query unnecessarily.
    • View Multiple Pages – Sometimes you need to view different reports or pages at the same time. You can do this by opening each page or report in separate tabs. Do this by right-clicking the “Dashboard” tab and selecting “Open in new tab”.
    • Prepayments – Rather than trying to remember to enter a monthly journal to take up expense payments for prepaid assets or liabilities, use repeating journals to release the prepayments. This will keep your management accounts current. One less thing to do!
    • Notes – All sales invoices, bills, and contact cards have an area where you can add notes about a transaction or contact. This is best practice in terms of record keeping. Making notes will also assist you or your advisor to understand or remember why an action was taken when accounts are reviewed in the future.
    • Annotations – Related to the above tip about notes, you can also make annotations to your reports which will assist others in understanding what has happened during a specific period or a transaction. To add annotations, simply click on the “add note” icon next to a cell and start typing. Find out how to use annotations here.
    • Split Transactions in Cash Coding Screen – Select a transaction when in the cash coding screen and from the right-hand side click the drop-down menu and select “split”. This will open the Spend Money function (you can also type the forward slash key “/” to achieve the same thing). Type a percentage for the split you require e.g. 50% in the “amount” cell and Xero will calculate the amount for you. Then complete the fields for each split line as necessary and click save. Your transaction will now be split between 2 lines (or as many as required).
    • Using Placeholders in Repeating Journals – if you use repeating journals, you can automatically include information about the period the journal relates. From a draft repeating journal, complete the Narrative box, then click Add placeholder to set up the placeholder you need. See more details here.
    • Share Xero Sales Invoices with WhatsApp and WeChat – Select an approved invoice, click Options, then Share, and then choose your app to share it.

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    ATO STP Filing Error Codes – what do they mean and how do you fix them?

    At the time of writing this blog, most employers are actively submitting payroll events via Single Touch Payroll (STP). STP has been around since July 2018 and has now evolved into STP Phase 2. Most software companies used by small businesses to file STP reports, are now STP 2-enabled, so many employers will be reporting payroll via this mode.

    While the process of filing or reporting payroll via STP is fairly straightforward, there can be occasions where things may go wrong. This is particularly true now, given the setup for STP Phase 2 is quite involved and onerous. Should the setup for STP 2 not be done correctly, this will most certainly lead to filing errors.

    If a pay event is returned after filing it, the ATO will provide an error code that describes the issue. While these codes are useful in terms of helping the lodger understand what is wrong, they do not assist in providing details about how to fix the error within the software you may be using.  Luckily, there is help available from each of the main software providers. 

    Here is a list of the software providers and the links to their help pages, should your filing return an ATO error code:




    Also, from Reckon, here is a list of the most common submission errors via the ATO. Each error code is explained and a reason behind the error is given. This can be a helpful starting point when trying to rectify any STP errors.

    I hope this blog has been helpful to you if you are an employer or bookkeeper. It would be a good idea to add the link for your chosen software to your favourites list for future access, should you encounter an STP filing error.

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    eInvoicing: what is it and how to get started

    What is eInvoicing?

    eInvoicing is a new way to securely send and receive invoices between businesses via a secure global public network known as PeppolThe Australian Peppol Authority is the ATO. eInvoicing, despite being a popular and efficient method of transacting, is not mandatory.

    A buyer and a supplier must both be registered with Peppol in order to use eInvoicing. This is done via your accounting software (if it offers eInvoicing functionality). Larger businesses may need to use alternative options in order to connect to the network.

    Why eInvoicing?

    eInvoicing is secure and time-efficient. It removes the need for using email or snail mail as methods of sending invoices and therefore, is more secure. It also removes the need to key in invoice data when an invoice is received and/or scan and attach PDF copies of the invoice. Data entry error is also heavily reduced when using eInvoicing due to little or no keying in of details required. When an invoice is received via eInvoicing, you would simply go through your normal approval process and then prepare to pay the invoice when ready. The below image is from the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers and explains the difference between the current invoicing process you probably use now, and the eInvoicing process which is much simpler.


    How do I know if my supplier or customer is eInvoicing-enabled?

    When you or your supplier becomes eInvoice-enabled, you will be listed in the Peppol Directory. You can search the directory to see if your contact can receive or send eInvoices.

    How do I know if my software product is eInvoicing-ready?

    All software products that offer eInvoicing functionality are listed in this register on the ATO website. Some products are accounting packages and some offer online web portals for eInvoicing. 

    Below are 3 of the most popular online accounting packages which are eInvoicing-ready now. Each software link below will assist you to get started using eInvoicing and explain the process specific to that software. It’s important to note that MYOB and Xero do not charge anything extra to use eInvoicing which is excellent! Reckon has monthly packages including eInvoicing.

    Not ready to commit to eInvoicing? Need more information?

    eInvoicing is relatively new, although large companies and government departments have been using it for quite some time now. Small businesses are slowly engaging in this new method, with the uptake increasing continually. It is understandable that you may not be ready to make the jump to eInvoicing or even require it at this stage in your business development. If you would like to do some further research before moving forward, here are some useful links:

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    What NOT to include in payslips for paid Family & Domestic Violence Leave

    Here is a reminder that access to paid family and domestic violence leave for employees of non-small business employers (employers with 15 or more employees) began on 1st February 2023 (and 1st August 2023 for small business employers). The leave is for 10 days for any full, part-time or casual employees and is not pro-rated. Read more about this new leave type in our previous blog here.

    Something important to call out in relation to paying this leave is the information that is prohibited from being included on the employee’s payslip. 

    Employers must not include:

    • A statement that an amount paid to an employee is a payment in respect of the employee’s entitlement to paid family and domestic violence leave
    • A statement that a period of leave taken by the employee has been taken as a period of paid family and domestic violence leave
    • The balance of an employee’s entitlement to paid family and domestic violence leave

    The reason for not including this information is that if a perpetrator of violence gains access to the employee’s payslip and sees that this type of leave has been taken, this may pose a significant risk to the employee.

    When setting up this type of leave in the payroll system, it is important to give it a generic name that does not reference the words “Family and Domestic Violence Leave”. In fact, not calling it “leave” at all is best practice. Given the payment is for an employee’s full rate of pay for the hours he/she would have worked if they weren’t on leave, then simply producing a payslip that shows “gross” pay, is recommended. In the back end of the payroll setup, details can be added noting what the payments actually are, and leave entitlement balances can be recorded but not included on the payslip (simply uncheck that box in the employee’s payroll setup (software-dependent)). 

    Precluding statements about this type of leave on an affected employee’s payslip is now part of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment Regulations 2022. Employers must take note and ensure that their payroll systems are set up correctly to reflect these amendments. Failing to do so may/will put affected employees at significant risk. If you are an employer, make sure you action this now (or by August 2023 if you are a small employer).

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    A Better Employee Onboarding Experience is coming…

    The way new employees are onboarded is changing. Currently, employers ask new employees to provide a Tax File Number Declaration form, a Super Choice form, and also other personal information required in order to set them up in their payroll systems.

    While this process is fairly straightforward, often employers find themselves chasing new employees for the data and at times, needing to confirm details that may or may not be correct (usually not correct in my experience!). This process can therefore be very time-consuming and tedious for employers, not to mention that the room for error is very high. It is also not a great deal of fun for new employees either!

    Enter the “New Employment Form”.

    This is an all-in-one onboarding form that new employees access from their myGov accounts. The form will provide both the ATO and the employer with all of the information required to set up new employees in one easy action.

    Importantly, this form will replace several forms. These include the Tax File Number Declaration, the Super Choice form, the Variation to Tax Withholding Declaration, the Variation to Medicare Levy Declaration, etc. Employees can also use it to update their tax circumstances, for example, if:

    • their residency status has changed
    • they no longer have a government study and training loan
    • they are claiming the tax-free threshold from a different employer.

    This change to employee onboarding will reduce the administrative burden for employers and increase process efficiencies. It will also reduce data recording errors which are very common when obtaining personal details from new staff members.

    How the new onboarding process works

    Firstly, the employer needs to provide his/her ABN to the new employees.

    To access the new form, employees will require a myGov account linked to the ATO. Once signed in they will:

    • access ATO online services
    • go to the ‘Employment’ menu
    • select ‘New employment’ and
    • complete the form then
    • submit the form

    After submitting the form, the details will be sent straight to the ATO removing the requirement for employers to send completed TFN Declarations separately. It’s important to note that the changes to Single Touch Payroll Phase 2 have also made this possible i.e. every time a pay run is reported via STP 2, employees’ tax information is sent to the ATO. Although this step can now be removed from the onboarding process, employers must continue to receive completed TFN Declarations from new employees and retain them as part of the employees’ records.

    Once the form is submitted, the employee will print the form and give it to the employer who will use the information to set up the employee in the payroll system.

    It’s important to note that the downloadable version of the TFN declaration form will be removed by the end of 2022.

     The ATO is therefore requiring new employees to be onboarded using the new above process going forward. This is a new process that both employers and employees need to understand and adopt. It has benefits in terms of efficiency and data security and in my opinion, is the way forward.

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    New PAID Family & Domestic Violence Leave

    Employees (full-time, part-time, and casual), will soon be able to access 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in a 12-month period.

    This will replace the current 5 days of unpaid leave available to affected employees.

    Employees will be entitled to the full 10 days upfront, meaning they won’t have to accumulate it over time. The leave won’t accumulate from year to year if it isn’t used. The leave will renew every year on an employee’s work anniversary.

    The new leave entitlement will be available from:

    • 1 February 2023, for employees of non-small business employers (employers with 15 or more employees on 1 February 2023) 
    • 1 August 2023, for employees of small business employers (employers with less than 15 employees on 1 February 2023

    Reasons for requiring this type of leave could include:

    • making arrangements for their safety, or the safety of a close relative (including relocation)
    • attending court hearings
    • accessing police services
    • attending counselling
    • attending appointments with medical, financial or legal professionals

    An employer can ask for evidence from an employee when the leave is applied for. Types of evidence can include:

    • documents issued by police
    • documents issues by court
    • family violence support service documents or
    • statutory declaration

    Employees will continue to be entitled to  5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave until they can access the new paid entitlement.

    Reporting paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave on payslips has very specific rules – read our blog here to find out more!

    For more information go to the Fair Work website.

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    ATO has recommenced tax & super debt Collection Activities…

    What you can do to help yourself and/or your business

    During the past 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ATO deliberately halted tax and super debt collection in order to assist businesses and taxpayers affected by the pandemic’s consequences.

    But now they are back on the bandwagon. Debt collection has recommenced!

    The ATO is clear that if you engage with them as soon as possible, they will try to work with you to help you manage your debts. However, and I quote:

    Where taxpayers don’t engage, the ATO is taking firmer actions. These include garnishees, recovery of director penalties, disclosure of business tax debts, and legal actions including summons, creditors petition, wind-up, and insolvency action.”

    So the message is don’t hide under a rock. The debt won’t disappear and the ATO will chase you to recover it. Instead, contact the ATO immediately and work with them to resolve the issues. They can’t help you if you don’t communicate with them. Your tax or BAS agent can do this on your behalf if you would prefer not to call the ATO yourself.

    It is important to note that from July 2022, any tax refunds or credits will be automatically applied to any tax/super debt you may have, meaning that you may not receive any refund or a smaller refund than expected.

    The ATO has various avenues of help for businesses or taxpayers experiencing tax/super debt stress. Some of these are listed below:

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