Updated: May 3
Taking on the Tax Burden
Fear and distrust of tax authorities seems to transcend time and geographical locations.
As far back as 1789, United States Founding Father Benjamin Franklin wrote: “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.”
As if this wasn’t enough, about 100 years later another American, author Mark Twain, rubbed it in by repeating the same sentiment: “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.”
Later on, The Beatles – even amid the flower power of Britain’s Swinging Sixties – were moved to write a bitter song, titularly-titled Taxman, after a bruising tussle with the tax authorities, that included this verse:
“If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.”
In Australia, where the federal tax system is generally considered onerous, overly complicated and confusing, the taxman tends to be perceived as a vindictive, data-driven bogeyman with all the compassion and empathy of Attila the Hun.
No wonder many small business owners – overwhelmed by what can look like mountains of unintelligible taxation paperwork – are fearful of engaging with the taxman and coming to terms with their tax obligations.
But is all this just a convenient cliché and an excuse for taking a swerve on taxes in the fervent hope the taxman will somehow skip over you in his records system?
Will avoiding your tax bills possibly mean that the taxman will avoid them too?
Well, for the answer to that, refer to the quotes above by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain.
What they said hundreds of years ago still holds true today – and even more so.
But small businesses dazed and confused by the enormity of their tax procedures - and the grim reality of dealing with them - can take heart that there are specialists out there ready and willing to take on the burden of leading them through the taxation maze.
And they actually enjoy doing it – going with gusto into financial places where most small businesses fear to tread!
Taking the Bull by the Horns
Tax accountant Lyndall Ward is one such specialist who revels in wallowing in all the intricacies of tax compliance on behalf of small business clients.
With her firm CATS4Tax, she’s devoted her professional career to following a passion for straightening out the tax affairs of small businesses - and taking the fear factor out of dealing with the taxman.
A combination of genuine enthusiasm for a subject most people shy away from, experience and expertise in drilling down into a company’s financials and well-honed relationships with the Tax Office makes CATS4Tax a one-stop shop for any small businesses reluctant to take their tax bull by the horns.
CATS4Tax is named after Lake Cathie, where Lyndall lives and works, just a 15-minute drive south of Port Macquarie, allowing easy access to the personal client visits she thrives on.
With her status as a Registered Tax Agent, Lyndall enjoys direct phone access to the Tax Office – which means faster answers to questions instead of hanging on a call waiting system for hours on end.
This personal touch at the Tax Office is also seen at the other end of the business spectrum in Lyndall’s client relationships, where she values providing painstaking commitment to build trust and reassurance that her tax compliance procedures are thorough and effective.
‘When clients are overawed or dismayed by the looming tax liabilities it’s vitally important to reassure them by giving them the trust that their affairs are in professional, experienced hands,” says Lyndall.
“Helping clients to meet their tax compliance can be a convoluted process, but it’s really nothing to be scared of and in fact it’s a responsibility that businesses have to meet in the corporate world.
“Unfortunately, although taxation is part of the fabric of society, it’s not taught in school and some businesses start-up with no real idea of this responsibility or how to meet it.
“Avoiding being tax compliant is the worst approach for a business to take.
“I’ve had to work with some businesses when it’s all caught up with them a few years down the line - they always have a real ‘Deer in the Headlights’ look about them when they realise the situation they’ve got themselves into.”
When businesses side-step their tax liabilities over periods of time, Lyndall’s work in digging deep into their financials to get everything back on an even keel is a methodical, forensic process.
A deep dive into company financial records can sometimes uncover missing details and blank areas that point to unfamiliarity with efficient bookkeeping – a wide-open invitation for the taxman.
“Keeping detailed records is of prime importance and it’s something that some businesses fail to keep up,” she says.
“I sometimes think I should have T-shirts made with a big ‘Keep Receipts’ image on them.
“But I enjoy digging back into a company’s financials – I’m like a dog with a bone and I’m task-oriented to get the job done and get the client fully tax-compliant.”
But although the expectation of most errant businesses is they’ll face a tax bill once all their affairs are brought up-to-date and they’re tax compliant – there have been a number of occasions when Lyndall has been able to give them the good news that they’re actually owed a refund instead.
Lyndall, with a background as a software consultant, is also able to train clients to be more hands-on and streamlined with their financials by training them in application of accounting software, such as XERO, which she’s certified in.
It’s sometimes hard to keep pace with Australia’s ever-changing financial regulatory system – witness the recent confusion over changes to GST.
So, a tax accountant like Lyndall with a finger on the country’s taxation pulse is a required asset for small businesses.
This quality, coupled with a dedicated work ethic to build trust and confidence in getting the job done effectively is what makes CATS4Tax an essential component for any business wary of the taxman and unfamiliar with his requirements.
Taxation may be an inevitable fact of life, but the services of CATS4Tax make it a more reassuring experience.
Find out more:
p/ 0404 483 685
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