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Simplifying the process or a blatant information grab?

April 2, 2014

Since 1 July 2010 the government has been slowly working away with software developers, accountants, businesses and various state and federal agencies to develop Standard Business Reporting (SBR.)

The tag line is simple: “(the) SBR simplifies business-to-government reporting”

They are trying to develop one communication point between businesses and all state and federal government agencies. This should streamline compliance reporting, and mean only one report for multiple agencies.
For example, rather than providing:
• the ATO with gross wages and tax withheld (a PAYG summary report);
• Revenue SA with gross wages and superannuation (Payroll tax reconciliation); and,
• WorkCover with gross wages and superannuation (WorkCover reconciliation)….
you will be able to do it all from one report linked directly to your accounting software!

The ATO has a stated that it would like this complete integration by 2020. It would include 13 different government agencies including the ATO, ASIC, APRA, ABS, State and Territory Revenue Offices and likely the Family Assistance Office and Centrelink.

All of this will be done by introducing standard data tracking and report mapping into accounting software. Essentially every business in Australia will have the same chart of accounts, which will allow the government agencies to interpret the data.

It all sounds fantastic, one reporting system, fewer communication errors between government agencies, reduced time and therefore money spent by your business on organising the compliance reports, not to mention your reduced accounting fees as your system will integrate directly with your accountants.

HOWEVER, depending on your software provider, most information will be mapped at a transactional level. This means the ATO and other government agencies will have access to all the transactions you post through your accounting system.

• Remember that boat you bought through the business so that your ex-spouse didn’t know about it….they, and the Child Support Agency now do.
• Remember when you made that error coding a loan proceeds as income……the ATO is now asking you for tax on it.

While the above are extreme examples, and your advisors should find these errors before anything is submitted, it is still scary to know that big brother has seen all of this unfold.

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