GST returns


18th June, 2018

Goods and Services Tax returns

Understanding GST returns in the time that it takes to reverse park.

Understanding the requirements of a goods and services tax (GST) return is actually a lot less daunting than reverse parking.

Unlike most reverse parks, you can conquer this two-minute read in only two point-turns: learning what you have to include on your GST return and mastering tips on the best way to prepare it.

The GST return is a government form that all businesses must lodge to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD). It’s a summary of all the GST you have paid or will pay to the government during a specific period.

Most New Zealand businesses will file their return monthly, two-monthly or six-monthly.

What to include when filing a GST return

To complete your GST return you’ll need to collect:

  • Purchases and expenses from the relevant GST period
  • Sales and income for the relevant GST period.

Some businesses will also need their asset adjustment amount for the relevant period.

RESOURCE: GST reimbursements and credits: Everything you need to know

Preparing your GST return

At first, preparing your GST returns can be a little challenging and somewhat time consuming.

Here are three tips to help simplify success:

1. Keep accurate records

Thorough records will be your best friend when it comes to preparing your return.

Keep and categorise all the business invoices and receipts as soon as you get them, as this will save you time when filing. Accounting software can make this process easy and quick.

Update your accounts every week with all relevant information of transactions the business has conducted. These records should include the date, type of transaction, description and GST (if applicable).

At the end of the period, total all these records, complete the GST return form and submit it via your myIR Secure Online Services account.

By using online accounting software the GST return can be securely sent to Inland Revenue directly through the software, meaning you don’t need to manually enter figures into a separate GST return and print a copy to send to Inland Revenue.

Keep records of your returns (and make sure they match those of your own accounting systems) for at least five years.

Here are some tips to help you avoid common GST return pitfalls.

2. Sort your accounts by category

Set up your accounting system based on the categories of the GST return form. This will make filing your returns much easier.

Make sure that you include all statements for the given period of submission. Using MYOB online accounting software can help you do this accurately.

3. Know your filing dates

When you register for GST you’ll decide how often you want to file your GST returns. The period you choose is known as your taxable period or filing frequency. You can choose to file your GST returns monthly, two-monthly or six-monthly. If you don’t choose, two-monthly is the default option.

Avoid drama with the IRD by keeping on top of when your returns are due. If you feel like you might not make the deadlines, contact the IRD before the date to avoid any repercussions.

Filing your GST return

You can file your GST return online through myIR Secure Online Services, directly through your online accounting software, or through a registered tax agent. If you have an accountant or bookkeeper, this is a task that they can take care of for you.

You can find the dates you’re required to file your GST returns here.

Top 3 takeaways

  1. A GST return summarises the GST that your business has paid.
  2. File your return to the IRD at regular intervals, either monthly, two-monthly or six-monthly.
  3. To keep on top of your filing obligations, remember to keep accurate records, sort your accounts according to their relevant category and be mindful of your filing dates.

READ NEXT: Bookkeeping basics