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Accounting FAQ's

Some questions come up often, so we have included the top eight below.

If you need further clarification, wish to discuss your situation or have another question you are welcome to contact us.

The information presented on this website is not intended to provide comprehensive accounting or legal advice. Because taxation and accounting issues must be considered on a case by case basis, the information presented herein is not intended to replace professional advice being sought in regard to a specific issue.

What is the difference between an Accountant and a Chartered Accountant?

Anyone can call themselves an accountant, but ONLY A Chartered Accountant is:

  • a member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • required to undertake mandatory professional development training
  • bound by a code of ethics and required to adhere to professional standards
  • subject to the Institute’s disciplinary procedures
  • trained for a minimum of seven years to achieve this professional qualification
  • subject to Institute reviews of their professional practices

Chartered Accountants are up-to-date with the latest business issues and committed to ongoing professional education. Engaging a Chartered Accountant is a smart investment and a promise of quality and expertise.

F T Dooley Ltd has 6 members of staff who are members of the institute. We have a focus on professional development and encourage ongoing learning. The rules of the institute and the reputation of the accounting profession are important to us.

Why don’t you offer monthly fixed fees?

At F T Dooley Ltd we believe it’s not right to charge you a fee if we don’t do any work for you. Instead, you pay for actual work done and no more. Look closely at the “fixed” monthly fees offered by many accountants these days, you will find that they say “Starting From”. The cost worked out over a year, plus extra items not covered in the plan, often work out more expensive than time-based charges. We do offer flexible payment arrangements and are happy to discuss this with you.

How do accountants charge?

All accountants charge by time. The longer it takes to prepare your return or complete the assignment, the more expensive it’s going to be. Therefore, the clearer, complete and more presentable the financial information provided, the quicker we get it done and the more cost-effective it is.

Can you give me a quote for the work?

It is often not possible to know how long a job will take without reviewing the scope, especially if you are a new client. A lot depends on how well the information is presented and what is required. We may be able to provide an estimate after reviewing your records. Call us to discuss further.

Why is my invoice more than last year?

There are four common reasons why your invoice may be higher than you expected, or is higher than the previous year.

  1. There is more work this year. Examples include purchase or sale of investment property, GST not reconciled, wages not reconciled, etc
  2. Missing information. If information is missing, we will request it from you, then put down your job and pick up another while we wait for the information. The more often a job is picked up and put down the longer it’s going to take.
  3. Verifying records. Professional accountants take some responsibility for the reports they produce. Therefore, we cannot just convert your records into the reports. We have to make sure the results present a true and fair view and items are correctly classified before we add the usual adjustments such as depreciation, owner salaries, taxes, etc. Sometimes significant fixes are needed.
  4. Inflation. A CPI adjustment can be expected most years.
What can I do to keep my accounting costs down?
  1. Use our checklists to make sure everything we need is included when you send your books to us. Providing all information at the beginning cuts out the time associated with picking up and putting down a job which can add up very quickly.
  2. Sorting through records is often a very time consuming process. We recommend filing your invoices in date or cheque order. Separating out copies of invoices relating to Fixed Asset purchases, legal costs and large or unusual expenses can save us a lot of processing time.
  3. If you use a computer cashbook, we recommend that you print a full list of your transactions for the year ‘by code’. This report is handy to check for consistencies with coding and make sure codes contain the correct number of payments (eg 12 telephone payments, 4 rates payments etc). This will save us time re-coding your cashbook.
  4. If you process your own GST, regular reconciliations are a must! Checking that your bank account and GST reconciles at the end of each period will ensure that we have no issues following your workings at year end.
Do I need to register for GST?

Firstly you must ensure your undertaking is a “taxable activity”. Most business falls into this category but residential rental properties do not. Click on the link to IRD to see more on what constitutes a taxable activity here.

Next, consider your turnover (total sales or income). If it is $60,000 or more in any twelve month period you must register.

If you don’t turn over $60,000 then you don’t need to register. But you still might like to consider voluntary registration. Whether you register for GST or not depends on a number of factors such as: do you have a lot of expenses or capital costs which you pay GST on?, how much time and effort you will spend preparing GST returns and is your cost structure likely benefit from registering for GST - so we recommend you discuss these issues with us.

What are the advantages of being on an accountant’s tax agents list?

The Benefits Include:

  1. Extension of Time (EOT) to file tax return: If you don’t have an EOT then you have to file your tax return by 7 July of that year. However, if you have an EOT then you have until 31 March the following year to file your tax return. An EOT is automatically granted if you are with a tax agent and you are up-to-date with filing your tax returns.
  2. Safe harbour: If you are on a tax agent’s tax agency list then this means you can base your provisional tax payments on your two prior years’ tax. This is not possible if you are not linked with a tax agent. The advantage of being able to do this is that you avoid interest and penalties if you have paid less tax (as long as you based it on the prior years’ tax paid).
  3. Extra time to pay: If you have an extension of time, you get an extra two months to pay your terminal tax, 7 April instead of 7 February.
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