Last week we looked at source documents, what they are and why they’re important. This week we look at how our clients work with source documents, how they deliver them to us and the various issues that can arise from time to time.
How our clients deal with source documents
Our clients deal with their source documents in many varying ways. Some prefer to work with hard copies while others have embraced the paperless office concept and use scanning and various online programs to store data in cloud. Some clients like to use a mixture of both systems.
How our clients deliver source documents to us
Clients use a variety of methods to deliver their documents to us. Here are some of those methods:
- Dropbox: online storage which enables sharing of folders and files between us and the client electronically.
- Email: useful for sending low-size documents quickly.
- Snail Mail: many clients prefer to send data via Australia Post. We recommend sending via Express Post or Registered Post for extra security.
- Client log in via e-BAS Accounts website: every client is given access to our online storage facility and can use this facility to send us documents (no limit on size). We recommend clients use this method over email as it is far more secure especially when sending sensitive financial data.
- Provide access to their computer network: some clients have extensive record-keeping systems already set up on their computers and prefer that we access data directly from their networks rather than sending us files/folders etc. User names and passwords are provided and we can access data whenever we need to do so.
- Access to online banking: some clients provide us with access to their online banking facilities so that we can download bank statements and check data as needed.
Things don’t always go to plan……
While delivering documents from one point to another seems like a fairly simple concept, sometimes this process can go awry. Here are some mail issues that we encounter here at e-BAS Accounts from time to time:
- Snail mail gets lost – luckily for us I can say that no mail has ever been totally lost via Australia Post between us and clients. However, there was one episode where a client wrote the wrong PO Box number on his envelope and the data ended up in someone else’s PO Box. We eventually got it back but it took 5 weeks! Not good when you’re working to deadlines!
- Clients don’t sort through their receipts, rather they just send everything they have in their wallets etc. If this happens, we have to spend extra time doing the sorting – extra time means more cost to the client – not smart!
- Only providing bank statements – some clients think that bookkeepers are mind readers and can decipher every transaction made via bank statements. News flash – WE CAN’T!
- Clients don’t keep receipts/invoices on record. Yes, you heard right! Some clients don’t keep their receipts even though it is plain knowledge that all source documents must be kept for a minimum of 5 years. So, when we request to see certain documents, guess what, these clients can’t do it, leaving us in a very precarious situation (more on this in the next blog).
- IT break-downs – sometimes access to a client’s computer network is denied due to IT faults. Luckily this doesn’t happen often but can cause timing issues when it does (not to mention being pretty annoying!).
- Clients provide some documents but not all of them. Often we find that clients don’t provide all of the documents required. This means that we have to go back to the client and request the missing data. While this isn’t a biggy in the scheme of things, it does slow the work process down and can be problematic when we are working to ATO due dates.
- Sending data late – some clients, even though they have been asked to send data to us by a certain date, consistently send their data through at a much later time. This disrupts our work-flow and can mean that BAS and/or IAS are lodged later than the given ATO due date.
I could go on here but won’t continue to bore you! These are the main issues we see when dealing with clients’ source documents.
As you can see, there are things that can go wrong and issues involved with how clients deal with source documents. Next time we look at how these issues impact on our responsibilities as BAS Agents at e-BAS Accounts and what this might mean for our clients going forward.