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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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    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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    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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    How to lodge a TPAR non-lodgement advice form (NIL TPAR)

    If you normally lodge a Taxable Payments Annual Report (TPAR) but have decided that this year, you don’t have anything to report, you can lodge a “Non-lodgement Advice” form (NIL TPAR) with the ATO. You can do this online via ATO Online Services.

    If you are a sole trader or individual taxpayer you can access Online Services through your myGov account. If you are another structure, such as a company, you can access Online Services via Online Services for Business.

    Submitting a TPAR non-lodgement advice form,

    • allows you to notify multiple years on the same form
    • allows you to advise when you do not need to lodge in the future
    • allows you to give a reason for not lodging
    • validates information entered
    • provides a reference number for confirmation
    • appears in the lodgment history tab.

    If you are not sure if you need to lodge a TPAR or not, go to this ATO webpage which will help you work this out.

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    Travel Diaries

    Finally, after the dark days of COVID-19 and endless lockdowns, etc., we are now seeing glimpses of opportunities to travel again (THANK GOD!). For business owners, this means work-related travel is once more on the table. Given it’s been a while between trips, I thought it might be useful to provide a refresher on travel diaries and when they are required.

    When do I need to keep a travel diary and what do I record?

    When you travel for work or your business, you are sometimes required to keep a travel diary as per the ATO to assist in working out which part of your travel is tax-deductible. I have outlined the circumstances below which would dictate when you should keep such a diary:

    You should include the following in the diary:

    • Your location
    • The nature of the activity e.g. a conference
    • The day/s and time/s (start and end times)
    • The length of the activity e.g. 2 days
    • When you stopped for meals
    • Travel movements and activities before the activities end, or as soon as possible afterwards
    • The entries must be in English

    What can I use as my travel diary?

    The ATO has said that you can use a diary or journal of your choice for the purposes of keeping a travel diary. You can also use your digital calendar as well, making sure to attach receipts/invoices to each entry.

    What other records do I need to keep?

    It goes without saying, that you should keep all receipts and invoices related to your travel as well as the travel diary. This will make both the bookkeeper’s and tax agent’s jobs much easier 🙂 and make the ATO very happy!

    Lastly, you need to remember that if you were required to keep a travel diary and you didn’t, then you may not be able to claim the relevant travel expenses on your tax return! Speak to your tax agent for further advice if this affects you. 

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    Temporary Full Expensing Measure

    If you’ve been thinking of buying new equipment or a new vehicle for the business, now might be the time to do it. The instant asset write-off cost limit of $150K has been replaced by a new “temporary full expensing” measure (TFE) which effectively means you can fully deduct the cost of most assets, no matter how much they cost. This measure is in place to provide immediate tax relief and assist cash flow.

    Who & what is eligible?

    • Businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $5 billion.
    • Assets purchased and/or installed between 7:30 pm on 6 October and 30 June 2023.
    • Commercial vehicles, vans, buses and motorcycles.

    Who/what is not eligible?

    Fancy a new car?
    • Cars costing more than $59,136 (they can only be depreciated up to this amount).
    • Assets allocated to a low-value pool or a software development pool.
    • Certain primary production assets (water facilities, fencing, horticultural plants or fodder storage assets), unless you are a small business entity that chooses to apply the simplified depreciation rules to these assets.
    • Buildings and other capital works.
    • Assets that will never be located in Australia, or will not be used principally in Australia for the principal purpose of carrying on a business.
    • If your entity has an aggregated turnover of $50 million or more, you cannot TFE the cost of assets that are secondhand or that you purchased or installed prior to 7:30 pm on 6th October 2020.

    While TFE sounds good on paper, it is imperative that you get advice from your tax agent or accountant about TFE and how it may impact your tax situation, especially if it results in creating a loss. As we are BAS Agents, we cannot advise you about this so please do speak to your tax advisor if you think you would like to use the TFE measure for your business.

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    Meal entertainment: when does GST apply?

    The area of “meal entertainment” is an absolute minefield for accounting professionals like us. It can be very difficult to know when an expense incurred by a client relating to food or drink should be recorded with GST or not. Luckily there is a resource out there via the ATO that brings some clarity to the situation.

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    Netflix Tax – A Bookkeeper’s View (from the Trenches)

    My last blog was all about the new “Netflix Tax” and was really just an informational blog outlining what, how and when etc. In this blog, I want to look at the tax from a bookkeeper’s perspective and provide a real “from the trenches” viewpoint. All is not what it seems with the Netflix Tax!

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    Registered for GST? What you need to know about the Netflix Tax.

    netflix, tv, home-5336006.jpg

    For some time now, larger IT companies have been charging GST to their Australian consumers. Examples of these are Google, Adobe and Linkedin. They are doing this because of a new law that began formally on 1 July 2017. This new law is known colloquially as the “Netflix Tax”, requires all international companies with an annual GST turnover of $75K or more and selling services and digital products to Australian consumers, to enter the Australian GST system. While most of us aren’t too impressed with the 10% price hike on these products, GST registered business owners understand that they can claim the GST back in their BAS which alleviates the sting a little……or so they thought! Sadly, this is not the case with this new law. The “Netflix Tax” tells us something different and if you’re not paying attention, you or your BAS Agent are likely to get things wrong when processing your next BAS. Read on.

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    On-charging merchant surcharges to your clients – new rules!

    If you use your bank’s credit and debit card merchant facilities to accept payment from your clients and you on-charge the bank’s fees for use of these facilities, you need to take note of this blog!

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