Businesses across the nation are breathing collective sighs of relief after the Federal Government relented to growing pressure over the complicated Business Activity Statement (BAS) last week.
The lure of the small business vote finally pushed the Government into action, allowing businesses with an annual turnover of less than $2 million to lodge quarterly GST instalments and annual Business Activity Statements. Businesses with less than $20 million turnover also get a reprieve, moving to quarterly GST payments on a simpler form.
Even before the announcement was made, accounting and tax software vendors were confident any changes to GST payments and the Business Activity Statement would generate sales in accounting software updates.
Peter Lucas, managing director of Sybiz Software, said the vendor had been watching political activity over the past few months and had been preparing to modify the Sybiz product range in the case of a change. For Sybiz, the BAS is fundamental to what its software offers, as the program collects all the data for the 51 boxes that were on the BAS form.
According to Lucas, 80 per cent of Sybiz customers have purchased user maintenance contracts for the software, whereby paying 15 per cent of the product's retail value, the customer can gain access to free updates for the year. Sybiz resellers gain a cut of these fees. "For us, changes are profitable," he said. "They generate more work for the industry."
The channel for GST accounting software has been fraught with issues over the past nine months. While some resellers claim the major vendors responded with updates very quickly, others are said to have been less than helpful, with both untimely and bug-ridden software being released.
Lorenzo Coppa, managing director of phone and Web-based reseller City Software, said future updates should create new opportunities for resellers.
"Upgrades can create new interest in products a certain customer may not have previously been interested in, as it didn't originally include a feature they wanted," he said.
John Telitidis, proprietor of Downtown software in Melbourne, said he considers upgrades of equal importance to core software products. "A lot of our business is about selling the upgrades," he said. "We make the same margins on an upgrade as we would on the core product. If upgrades didn't exist, we wouldn't be around."