Overcoming Tax Time Anxiety: Tips for Better Financial Clarity

As we inch our way towards June 30, are you starting to see the inevitable wave of ‘tax-time tips’ coming your way? And rather than making you feel organised and on your game, those all-too-familiar feelings of anxiety and inadequacy have you tying yourself in knots?

You’re not alone. 

As an accountant-turned-financial-mentor, it was tempting to write a timely article about effective strategies for business tax planning. Don’t get me wrong: that’s important too. But the more I dive into the big feelings we have around business finances, the confusion and fear I see so many entrepreneurs suffering from is fast becoming the elephant in the room. 

I’ve also been in the position of guiding one of my sons through a tricky learning difficulty when he was young; knowing how intelligent and capable he was made me realise that often, it’s the information we’re trying to process that just hasn’t been framed in a way that suits US. There’s nothing inherently wrong with us per se, we just need to digest complex ideas through our individual lens. 

So instead of being another expert throwing around terms and tips and tricks that make you feel worse as tax time draws near, let me be the voice in the room saying what you need to hear: NOT as a business owner, but as a human being with insecurities, money mindset issues and ( in some cases) financial trauma. 

Here are the 3 things I want you to know coming into EOFY this year:

You cannot be expected to understand complicated concepts at tax time without a clear explanation.

#1. You cannot be expected to understand complicated concepts without a clear explanation.

Accountants have A LOT on their plates these days, especially when it comes to tax and end-of-financial-year:

  • They charge in 6 minute increments - literally every minute counts. 
  • They’re overloaded with unrealistic responsibilities when it comes to their clients’ tax obligations. 
  • The tech is becoming seemingly more sophisticated (which leaves them having to justify themselves and be tech wizards in equal parts - also, note the use of ‘seemingly’). 

With all that in mind, you can see why your lack of understanding is more annoying and inconvenient for them? When really, it should be an opportunity for them to engage.

Not an excuse for a crappy experience, but a reason why it’s happening.

I left the accounting space largely because of this erosion of what it was originally meant to be: the chance to develop alongside some amazing enterprises, offering insights and ideas along the way. 

Now, the business owner eats last when it comes to getting the financial affairs of a business in order. And in that flurry and confusion, you’re made to feel as though YOU are the problem.

When it comes to things being unclear at tax time with end-of-financial-year obligations, it's you're responsibility to come up to speed.

#2. It’s not your fault.

Clearly, accounting has gotten messy and the clients have been left wanting. Not through ineptitude or stupidity - you simply haven’t been brought along for the ride as the pace has dramatically increased, and as the path has become more complex. 

What DOES lie with you - for better or worse - is the responsibility of bringing yourself up to speed. 

You must reclaim ownership of your finances, and the story they’re telling about your business overall. 

If I can help you remove your emotions from the situation, dispelling those feelings of failure and ignorance, you can rediscover your curiosity, reigniting your hunger for answers. 

If you’re reading this, here is how I KNOW you’re capable of becoming the expert of your enterprise:

  1. No one will ever know this business - both holistically and in detail - as well as you. Experts in certain areas will come and go; YOU will always be the foremost authority.
  2. Think of your own industry: I’m sure there’s shoptalk and jargon you throw around that means nothing to an outsider. Would you expect your customers to understand the intricacies of your craft? Of course not - so why should fancy-pants accounting terms (not tailored to your business) mean anything to YOU?
  3. I can’t tell you the number of AHA moments I’ve shared with entrepreneurs when, once I take the time to explain aspects of finances in their real-world context, EVERYTHING falls into place. 

You built your business to what it is today. That isn’t for the faint of heart, the uninitiated or the ignorant. But somewhere along the way - well, maybe a lot of compounding ‘somewhere’s - you were talked out of your own capacity.

Keep things simple this year at tax time to get the clarity you're searching for.

#3. Don’t wait for someone else to start the conversation.

If by now you can REALLY see where you have been let down, it’s time to get proactive!

Start with the basics - I talk A LOT about the power of a tailored Chart of Accounts, one that reflects your business (not the sample business Xero dreamed up for selling its products). Get curious about how income and expenses are organised inside your business. Like most things in life, you only get out what you put in. 

Quality data in, quality data out.

From there, take a good hard look at your Profit & Loss and your Balance Sheet. This is where your owner’s intuition comes into its own: if something ‘feels’ off, there’s a good chance it is!

Point it out to your bookkeeper, ask questions and get to the bottom of it. Tackle it together one red flag at a time. You don’t have to solve all the problems in one go, but the relief and empowerment you can feel from untangling that first knot is enough to make the exercise worth it. 

Still feeling overwhelmed? I got you. 

I get it: it all sounds well and good, but peeking into Xero can still seem like a jumble of buttons and words on a screen (shoutout to all my dyslexic friends out there!) Well I’m here to do EXACTLY what you need: contextualising all this data so you can easily read it, understand it and most importantly, take action based on it. The first step is easy - just book a free introductory chat with me at a time that works for you:

Disclaimer: These are yuck and boring but unfortunately a legal requirement for professionals in my industry. So just a reminder, the information contained here is general in nature and you should seek financial and business advice tailored to your own personal circumstances. Which, by no small coincidence, I can help you out with. Head over to my website and book a free 30 minute chat with me: https://betterbusinessdecisions.com.au/ 

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