GST software wars

GST software wars

With only three months until the GST July 1 deadline, a war is brewing amongst accounting software providers over who can provide the most compliant GST solution.

Fresh from an Australian Tax Office-led Tax and Technology Road Show, local provider Sybiz is claiming its product, Vision, beats other providers to "present a comprehensive GST-compliant software package". According to Peter Lucas, Sybiz's managing director, when Sybiz begins shipping Vision at the end of April it will be the first provider to deliver a solution which "does the whole job".

"We believe that zero per cent of companies are GST ready because as far as we know we are the first to do the whole job - none of the other (vendors) have got the whole lot," Lucas said.

Sybiz has spent the last three months developing Vision, which automatically completes all 51 fields in the Business Activity Statement (BAS) and electronically sends the form to the Tax Office, said Lucas. GST systems in New Zealand and UK only require business to fill 5 or 9 boxes on the BAS respectively, he said.

Sybiz's product, which is yet to ship, also offers features including Luxury Car Tax and Wine Equalisation Tax, unlike competitors solutions, he said.

"(At the ATO Tax and Technology Road Show) we expected to see our competitors with similar software, but they didn't have it. Some only had partial software . . . they extend to collecting information, but also rely on users doing things manually," Lucas said.

No Australian businesses have successfully implemented GST-compliant software that completely handles the tax change, he claimed.

However, Rob Evers, general manager of MYOB, is more confident businesses are prepared for the July 1 deadline. "I don't know exactly how many (businesses are ready) . . . but a lot of our (180,000) customers would already be getting organised."

While Evers admitted MYOB's GST-compliant software did not automatically complete the BAS, he said MYOB's solutions meet the required criteria set by the provider in accordance with the ATO's Software Consulting Committee.

"We believe that to be GST compliant, software needs to meet a basic set of criteria . . . and MYOB meets those. Our products enable an SME business to collate, collect and report on all information needed to complete the BAS," Evers said.

Criteria established by MYOB includes the provision of inclusive and exclusive pricing, the issue of tax invoices and adjustment notes, tax type compliance and GST liability reporting, Evers said.

Paul Marshall, Quicken's group product manager, said Quicken's GST compliant software, Quickbooks V.7, will be fully compliant with the Government's GST plans by June 30. Released on March 1, the solution is currently only partially compliant but includes updates incorporating all the latest GST functionality, Marshall said.

"At least two upgrades are planned for the product. This phased approach is necessary to allow the latest government changes to be implemented," he said.

According to Marshall, Quicken's product includes tax inputs and outputs including the Luxury Car Tax and in May will have full BAS reporting and automatic form submission capabilities.

"You cannot be GST compliant with any accounting software today," Marshall said. "What we're saying is that our product today includes the sales tax code and the GST code. (Additionally) we will provide updates . . . so by the time the GST hits we will be the most GST compliant," Marshall said.

The ATO is expected to hand out GST-compliance accreditation to accounting software providers next month.

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