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Happy New (Financial) Year – Can we celebrate yet?

For most people, when the year comes to an end it is a time for celebration. For some, it’s the chance for a new beginning, for change, excitement. Pop the champagne, kick up the heels and let loose, it’s party time! However, it’s often a time when accountants can feel sorry for themselves. It’s the dreaded time of year where they need to wrap up the year’s work, and the level of detailed reporting required goes through the roof. Expectations are high and the room for error is zero due to the highly scrutinized nature of the reports – especially if they will be subjected to an audit. Couple all this effort wrapping up the previous twelve months with the ongoing work to report on the financial activity of the New Year without skipping a beat, and it’s no wonder many accountants find themselves burning the midnight oil during the month of July.

The end of financial year often brings with it payroll issues: the issuance of payment summaries; associated ATO reporting; and reconciliations and new financial year readiness. Then the government adds to the challenges by changing tax rates, SGC requirements, and related levies. So I started to think that perhaps we accountants have little cause to feel sorry for ourselves compared to the developers and consultants who are working against an immovable deadline to produce quality, compliant payroll software to meet the requirements of new legislation. As the government only announces the changes for the coming financial year in the federal budget in mid-May, this gives very little time for a payroll software developer to integrate all the changes into their software package, test it, then roll it out to the customers and partners. Depending on the legislative changes in the budget, this is often a huge task to be done in a very short space of time.

Ever wonder what the economic costs are from a budget announcement of a change in tax rates or an increase in the Medicare levy?

Compared to this cost, the annual maintenance for your payroll software package suddenly might seem quite reasonable. It’s the annual payroll software maintenance that allows software firms with payroll products to continue to update them year on year to ensure they remain compliant with current legislation, and to continue to invest in on-going development. And as you would appreciate, nothing is more scrutinised than payroll – one mistake, even by a few cents, will inevitably be noticed. So as an accountant, you want to have complete confidence in your payroll solution – come year end, it can save you many, many hours of overtime if you can trust the results it provides.

So perhaps we can all pop open the champagne and kick up our heels to celebrate the new year. But only after the financials have been finalised… and the first payroll of the new year has run successfully, and the previous year wrapped up… and the auditors have come and gone… and… oh just pass me the bottle now and be done with it!

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