Prefill and submit online BAS forms with ABR data and Xero BAS statements.
Correction: LodgeIT is not the first SBR-based lodgement service to work with cloud accounting software, as reported earlier.
The first Australian online tax lodgement service to work with cloud accounting vendor Xero has entered public beta testing.
The LodgeIT (.net.au) service could pull data from a business activity statement (BAS) published in cloud accounting program Xero and populate a digital version of the BAS that could be submitted directly to the Australian Taxation Office, said LodgeIT creator Andrew Noble.
LodgeIT was available to businesses and accountants, with some features catering specifically for the accounting industry.
“In an accounting firm with five people they all work against a single ABN (Australian Business Number) but each person will have their own Auskey credentials. (In LodgeIT) they can still collaborate on certain forms,” said Noble, also director of West Australian accounting firm Noble and Associates.
Another accountant-specific feature was the ability to add ABNs of clients and pull information from the Australian Business Registry website to prefill digital taxation forms in LodgeIT.
LodgeIT had only released the BAS form for public use and was preparing a company tax return (also called a C Return).
Noble said the LodgeIT service would be most valuable for automating longer forms such as the C Return. “We’re trying to automate the C Return as much as possible,” Noble said. “Even though we’ll be grabbing the P&L from Xero we will let the user do different tasks with the form.”
Noble estimated that instead of taking 30 to 40 minutes to complete a C Return it would be almost immediate using the autofill function from Xero through LodgeIT.
LodgeIT also planned to release electronic forms for trusts, partnerships and superannuation funds.
LodgeIT used the ATO’s standard business reporting (SBR) framework which has standardised the fields in electronic taxation forms and replaced the ECI (Electronic Commerce Interface) standard. The LodgeIT service used SSL encryption to protect information moving between Xero and the SBR portal.
One feature missing from the beta release was a permanent connection to Xero. LodgeIT used a public key which had to reconnect each time. The next release would only need to set up a connection once to Xero, Noble said.
There were no plans to integrate with other cloud accounting programs such as Saasu or NetSuite, Noble said. Other programs had “fairly primitive” interfaces for software developers which made it harder to pull out specific data, he added.