By Pete Sanders

Staying on top of your Cash Flow: 4 Key Dates to Know

Businesses

Cash flow is one of the most critical things for the growth and survival of your business. According to research by ASIC, 41% of company failures are caused by inadequate cash flow or high cash use. If you can’t settle bills or pay your taxes, your business could be in trouble.

It’s vital to know not only what you’ve got to pay, but when. If you’re on your holiday and an important lodgement date comes up, it could be panic stations. Here are four key dates you need to know to help stay on top of your cash flow.

1. End of Financial Year (EOFY)
EOFY is the big one: the 1st July, also known as the fiscal year. It’s when income tax is due. If you’re a small business lodging your own reports, your income tax return is due on:

  • 31 October for an individual, partnership or trust
  • 28 February for a company (but if you didn’t lodge your prior year return on time, or any prior year returns are outstanding, your return is due on 31 October)

While the new financial year starts exactly half way through the calendar year in Australia, in other countries it’s at different times. Many countries, such as Japan, the UK and Canada, use 1st April. Others including France, Singapore and Russia follow the calendar year. The United States begins its fiscal year on the 1st October. As you can see it’s pretty much all over the place, but if you have overseas partners, suppliers or customers, it’s something to be aware of as they may be rushing to wrap up the previous year’s accounts ahead of that date.

2. Your business start date
Your start date may be the first day you set up your business or opened your accounts. Many businesses use 1st July, the End of Financial Year. Either way, it’s critical to know your business’ specific start date so you can track your cash flow properly.

Even if you’re not a large listed company required to report to the ASX twice a year, you should still be having a regular internal assessment of your books. This is particularly easy to do with accounting software as you can generate reports on the fly, or get them monthly.

3. GST reporting
Depending on the size of your company, you’ll have to report and pay GST monthly, quarterly or annually. The dates are decided by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO):

  • Monthly lodgement: your activity statement for each month must be lodged and any payment made by the 21st of the following month.
  • Quarterly lodgement: the 28th of October, February, April and July.
  • Annual lodgement: your annual GST return and payment of any amounts is either the date for lodgement of your income tax return, or 28 February following the annual tax period, if you’re not required to lodge an income tax return.

4. Invoice dates
These of course fall anywhere throughout the year, but if you don’t stay on top of them and ensure you’re getting paid, you’ll end up with a cash crunch. Conversely if you miss your own bill payment dates you could end up with a terrible credit record and suppliers refusing to do business with you.

You could mark all your invoice dates on a calendar as you receive and issue each bill, or enter them into your computer calendar. Or you could keep them in a month-by-month file. Better still, if you have accounting software it can do this for you, and even chase and make payments automatically.

Reporting seems like a bureaucratic burden, but it’s actually a vital way to keep on top of your business. Left unchecked, your cash flow is a hindrance to faster business growth and can eventually lead to business failure. If you can get a better grasp of it, you’ll be able to anticipate cash crunches before they occur.

If you’d like more of a detailed insight into some of the manageable, cost-effective steps you can take to resolve key problems when it comes to accounting and financial management for your business, download our free e-book below.

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