10 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Preparing Your Business Activity Statement

I have been working within the tax system for over 15 years and have come across many errors that have been made on Business Activity Statements. As a small business owner, you are responsible for ensuring you meet all your business GST obligations. If your turnover is more than $75,000 a year you are required to be registered for GST. I have prepared a short, easy to read article on some of the more common mistakes or myths around the Business Activity Statement.

Cash or Accrual?

When I get an enquiry for my BAS Agent services, one of the questions I will ask is whether you are registered for cash or accrual for GST and often the business owner does not know. Cash means that when a sales invoice gets paid you remit GST. When you pay for a deductible expense you can claim back the GST. Accrual means that when you send an invoice you must pay GST on invoice date and when you receive a supplier invoice and it has terms to pay then you can claim the GST. What is the difference? If you have cash coming in the business and have minimal accounts receivable (customers who owe you) and buy stock and have large amounts of aged payables (you owe your suppliers) then accrual may be a better option for you as you can claim the GST on purchases before you pay the end of month accounts. A big help with cash flow planning.

Including wages and superannuation at G11

Gross wages is reported at W1 and pay as you go (PAYG) tax withheld is reported at W2. If you do not have these boxes on your BAS, then you need to register for the PAYGW system. Super is not reported on the BAS as it is a non-taxable supply  and reported when you remit your super each month or quarter to the various superfunds. Hopefully you are using a superannuation clearing house to manage this - all my clients are!

You must lodge your BAS even if you haven’t traded (received income or incurred expenses)

You would be surprised how many times I have been told that there is no need to lodge this quarter as there has been no activity to report. The ATO want to know this and a nil BAS is required to be lodged. Failure to lodge a BAS will incur a $170 fine for every 28 day period.  See this link for more information Failure to lodge penalty

Not correctly including cash taken from the till to pay for products

When a daily sale sheet (or preferably a point of sale system) is not used to reconcile the turnover for the day and the petty cash taken to buy urgent supplies or milk for the staff there is a two-fold problem here. Under reporting your turnover which is not great if you are seeking finance from the bank and want your figures to look as healthy as possible. And under reporting your expenses and missing out on claiming possible GST credits back.

Incorrect tax codes setup in your chart of accounts

A simple overview of the chart of accounts by a qualified BAS or Tax agent can save errors by customising the chart of accounts. I have seen many an incorrect setup and the same GST errors have been repeated over and over again. Automation is a great tool for efficiency however must have the correct setup to work properly.

Claiming GST against all purchases

Some expenses do not attract GST or only partially attract GST for example:

  • Insurance premiums and motor vehicle registrations have a stamp duty component and as this is already a tax, GST is not charged on this component.  A tax is not charged on top of a tax.
  • Bank charges do not incur GST (however bank merchant fees do attract GST).
  • PayPal and Facebook charges do not incur GST (consider any subscriptions purchased, especially over the internet as they usually are outside of Australia).
  • Government fees such as ASIC fees, fines and penalties and council rates and charges.

Claiming GST on private portion of an expense

It is very unlikely that you will use your motor vehicle 100% for business use and the areas of FBT are very complex. Business percentage must be assessed for expenses like internet, mobile phone, motor vehicle expense or any home office related expenses.

Claiming GST on purchases where the supplier is not registered for GST

The tax office has put the responsibility back onto the tax-payer to check that they are correctly claiming GST from suppliers who are registered for GST. The AccountRight 2014.3 update included a great feature where you can enter the ABN and MYOB will check it so you know you are dealing with a legitimate supplier. The Commissioner of Taxation has now announced that you can rely on the ABN lookup to check this if you use other accounting software.

Not including capital sales in G1

The sale of motor vehicles, trade-ins or office equipment must be reported.  The tax office has contacted me asking for details as to where the sale of motor vehicle was reported in a client’s BAS. I contacted the client and they assumed as they were not registered for GST when they bought the motor vehicle they did not need to report the sale of it. When you enter the GST system you need to report all goods and services that you sell. The tax office uses data matching with other government agencies and will cross check.

Not knowing the various payment methods to make payments

You can EFT or BPay and even pay by credit card. You can also pay at Australian Post outlets.  Here is a link to the various payment methods, Methods of payment

If you cannot meet your payment then you can contact the ATO and make a payment arrangement.

If you find all this too time consuming or difficult, Apple Business Consultancy can ensure that your BAS is prepared correctly, you can contact us at:


0430 392 977