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ARTICLE Business TipsJune 10, 2014

Five timesaving tax apps for SMBs

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The end of the financial year no longer needs to mean hours of sifting through paper tax receipts and records. There is now a proliferation of smartphone apps that can make tax time, and yearlong record keeping, easier. Here is a taste of five of the best.

Today’s smartphone technology and apps can make the lives of e-commerce SMB owners simpler – and save them hours of time in their tax accountant’s office at the end of financial year, too.

While there are a number of apps designed to simplify business processes, there are also issues around apps potentially making data more vulnerable to being seen, stolen or accidentally deleted, so first follow these simple guidelines:

  • Always have a security system, such as a PIN code or fingerprint scanner, set for entry to your smartphone’s home screen.
  • Ensure the phone and app data is backed up regularly and familiarise yourself with where it is backing up – locally to a desktop computer or into the cloud, or both.
  • Find out, before it is too late, what you can and should do if your smartphone or tablet is lost or stolen. Can you remotely wipe your data, for instance?
  • Read up on purchase costs and ongoing costs, such as in-app purchases, before buying the app.

Once you’ve ticked off these steps, make your business life easier with apps such as these..

1. ATO

Click to Enlarge

Free for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone
The official app of the Australian Tax Office, this useful tool is built in two sections, one for individuals and the other for small businesses. It allows you to track, calculate and find relevant tax information, such as ways to lodge returns, the progress of returns, superannuation guarantee eligibility for a staff member, employee and contractor definitions and responsibilities, access to “small business assist” and, of course, current income tax rates. There’s lots more, too, on this easy-to-use app.

2. TrackMySpend

Free for iPhone, iPad, Android
This app from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission allows you to enter your total budget for various types of expenses and then track them within categories, whether they are personal or work related. Each expense can be easily added wherever and whenever the money is spent, and work, personal and goal-oriented spending can be kept separate. When it comes to tax time, the categories can be split into weekly, fortnightly, monthly and annual amounts for reporting purposes.

3. Expensify

Free for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry
You and your staff can now track expenses on the go instead of having to manage a shoebox filled with tatty receipts. Expensify allows users to use their smartphone camera to photograph receipts and then files them digitally. The app can also be linked to your bank account to automatically import expenses. And it allows separation of amounts in various categories and integrates with accounting systems such as Xero and QuickBooks. A desktop version offers more detailed reporting on your spending.

4. VehicleLog

$10.99 for iPhone, iPad
Compliant with the ATO’s logbook-keeping guidelines, the VehicleLog app is one of the simplest ways to record business use of a vehicle. The app doesn’t just record the data you input, it can also use your GPS to measure distance, it integrates with other apps on your smartphone – such as your calendar and contacts – and it supports single vehicles, large fleets and mixed-use vehicles. PDF reports from the app can be sent straight to your accountant or finance department. Also check out free ATO-compliant logbook apps such as Logit Fleetcare .

5. Shoeboxed

Free for iPhone, iPad, Android

How many times have you lost, or simply thrown away, receipts whose amounts could be tax deductible? Now there’s no excuse not to maximise your reimbursements. This award-winning app encourages you to take pictures of receipts. And that’s all you need to do. Within the app, the receipt image is then smart-scanned, data extracted, organised and archived after being verified for accuracy. Expense reports can be generated with just a few taps or exported to accounting software such as Xero, QuickBooks or Excel. The free version is limited to five scans per month. You can then pay to move up to various levels, from 50 documents a month ($19.95/month) to 1,000 documents per month ($177.77/month), with several options in between the two.

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