The ATO is often chasing up small business owners who haven’t completed their BAS. Usually this consists of two types of business owners: business owners who are being cavalier and “devil-may-care” about their tax OR business owners who are becoming more stressed, and more paralysed about it everyday. Unfortunately the ATO treats business owners as though they all fall into the first category. Most business owners I’ve met in this situation fall into the second category. They are stressed. They feel like their financial situation is unique and terrible. Being threatened with fines or bankruptcy doesn’t help get the business owner where the ATO would like them to be: profitable and paying tax. The bookkeeper’s first step is to take the heat off. This is quite difficult to do while asking the business owner to collect all their financial documents (one of the main steps the business owner usually really, really does not want to do). It would be so helpful if bookkeepers could get all the information they needed without having to bother the business owner. In the absence of this option the bookkeeper needs to explain to the business owner that the ATO does not want to bankrupt them. The ATO is like any other creditor and wants the business to be profitable so that they do, eventually, get their piece. The ATO just wants to know that the business owner is taking them seriously and dealing with them in good faith. Hiring a bookkeeper and getting started on the process can show the ATO that you are taking their letters seriously and you are doing something about it. Don’t be scared, don’t jump, don’t hide…..the ATO just wants to know you’re listening to them.