Bring accounts up to date to qualify for Covid-19 financial support

21 September 2021 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read

Despite the availability of several support packages for businesses across all three tiers of government, many businesses are struggling to understand what is available, how to access it, or whether they qualify, according to accountant and tax advisor Coco Hou. 

“There are many different types of support packages and grants available but unfortunately business owners are too busy, tired and stressed to deal with the challenges and complexities of working through all the different options available to them,” Coco Hou said.

“Not only do they not know what they are eligible for, they don’t have time to complete the applications for the grants.  This is something that can be solved quickly for business owners but because so many businesses are under pressure and have been for a while, their accounts are way behind and need to be brought up to date.”

Coco Hou, Managing Director of Platinum Accounting Australia

Coco Hou is a certified public accountant and the managing director of Platinum Accounting Australia, a national business advisory, accounting and tax agent service that specialises in helping business owners, start-ups, entrepreneurs, trusts and larger businesses to grow and prosper.  The business has a growing network of licensees across the country.

“While we are helping many businesses to apply for grants and other types of financial support, we are finding that one of the key barriers we are having to solve is bringing accounts up to date,” Hou explained. “In order to be eligible for many of the different types of support on offer, you have to be able to demonstrate how the pandemic has impacted your business and in order to do this, accounts have to be current.”

Hou urges businesses to focus on bringing their accounts up to date and has four tips for leaders:

Tidy up your books

“In order to apply for many of the grants and financial assistance on offer, you need to provide previous returns in order to demonstrate the impact on sales,” Hou said.

“Many businesses are time poor and owners don’t have time to bring books up to date. My advice is, find a bookkeeper who can help. Many accounting firms also offer bookkeeping services.  Ask other business owners whether they can recommend someone good but well priced to give you the time to bring things up to date quickly.”

Embrace cloud-based accounting software

“Use this opportunity to move your accounts to a cloud-based system that can be accessed from anywhere,” Hou said. “Programs such as Xero are free up to a point, or the monthly price is negligible. Moving your accounts to a cloud-based system will make life easier for you as a business owner and also enable a bookkeeper to work on your accounts from anywhere. This will make the process of bringing your books up to date faster as well.”

“In addition, you can also use apps that integrate with your accounting software such as Hubdoc that enable you to scan receipts and automatically add expenses to your accounts. Get smarter about how you do things.”

Seek assistance to apply for financial support

“Your accountant should be all over the types of grants and financial assistance available. This is their job. If they are not, find another accountant,” Hou emphasised. 

“They should be able to not only explain what type of support and assistance is available, but how you access it and apply for it.”

Move quickly and connect with other business owners

“The sooner you act, the faster you can get the financial help you need,” Hou added. “Some types of assistance will have closing dates and others will have specific requirements.” 

“Talk to other business owners in your geographic area, as well as business owners in your own industry outside of your area. This way you are more likely to find out what other businesses are doing in relation to support and what type of grants they are applying for. “Ask them how they approached things and get tips on how best to optimise success.”

Hou emphasises that the important aspect of all of this is to ensure that businesses bring their accounts up to date as quickly as possible. “This is vital and with the help of a good bookkeeper this can be done quickly – and it must in order to access all of the assistance on offer,” she said.