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  • Squad 5: Business activity statements – making it easier

    Small business owners, BAS and tax agents, software providers and ATO staff formed this fix-it squad to identify problems small business owners had in meeting their BAS obligations. The squad prioritised the main problems under the following themes:

    • complexity – understanding the law, GST codes and due dates
    • cost to business – keeping records and managing cash flow
    • access to support – getting the right advice from the right person at the right time and being aware of the availability of support tools.

    Three of the five squad ideas were tested with a further 11 small business owners from a variety of industries and another nine tax professionals. The five final recommendations from this squad are outlined in the table below.

    Squad recommendation


    1. Simplify GST record keeping and reporting, including:

    • 1A – pilot BAS form changes to simplify and reduce time and complexity of record keeping
    • 1B – investigate guidance on the correct use of software codes.


    1A and 1B in progress:

    Our BAS Simplification Project team is piloting BAS form simplification measures that will reduce the complexity of record keeping for GST. The simplified BAS will be introduced in July 2017 and will be the standard reporting option for small businesses.

    2. Contemporary help and reminders, including:

    • 2A – SMS lodgment and payment reminders to help small businesses plan and meet their BAS due dates
    • 2B – call confirmation and call back options.


    2A completed:

    We conducted an SMS BAS reminder pilot in February 2016 for the October – December 2015 quarter (due on 28 February 2016). It remains under consideration for future services.

    2B in progress:

    This recommendation is still under consideration.

    3. Promote the development of a client dashboard in native systems so that small business owners can see all their reporting and payment obligations at a glance.


    Dashboard user preferences shared with Software Industry Partnership Office for consideration by software providers.

    4. Promote tools and options to encourage small business owners to pay their BAS on time and help them manage cash flow, including:

    • 4A – promote early payment options
    • 4B – promote PAYGI calculator
    • 4C – policy changes - discounts for early payment.


    4A completed:

    The early payment options were promoted on social media and in the Small business newsroom, including updates to How much you owe.

    4B completed:

    Promoted updates to the PAYG Instalments calculator on social media and in the Small business newsroom, including updates to How to start paying instalments.

    4C closed: Policy and legislative change required.

    5. Develop an engagement pack (with incentives) to help establish good habits at the time of setting up a small business.

    It will stagger information to the small business providing support to them based on the stage of the business and other factors such as industry.

    Closed: This recommendation has been incorporated and delivered with the recommendations from Squad 4: Starting a small business for young adults.

      Last modified: 26 Apr 2017QC 47238