Xero’s Starter Plan just got better

Xero Starter Plans for SMEs

It’s been a tough year for small Kiwi businesses, so it’s always nice to get a little bit of good news. Last month Xero announced changes to its Starter plan, the entry-level Xero monthly subscription – a way to support small businesses during the pandemic as on-the-go accounting is more important than ever.

Check out the upgrades to the Xero Starter plan, effective from September 14, 2020:



Bank reconciliations

Limited to 20 per month



Limited to 5 per month

20 per month

The Starter plan is $27.50 per month, although new users can pay $13.75 per month for the first four months – and you can try Xero for free for 30 days. Remember that if you’re an SME Financial client, you get a discount on your Xero subscription, which we pass onto you.

The bank reconciliation feature keeps your numbers accurate, and you can set up bank rules to automatically reconcile regular transactions, saving you time. You also have Hubdoc, which means you can automatically get bills and receipts into Xero, making reconciliation easier. With the new higher limit on invoices, the Starter pack means you can send an invoice almost every working day of the month. Check out this video for invoicing shortcuts, and don’t forget to set up automatic reminders to help you manage outstanding accounts.

With these changes, the Starter plan is perfect for small businesses. It is designed to provide you with the flexibility to grow, at an affordable price. The Starter plan might be ideal if you’re a sole trader, a freelancer, contractor or tradie. It might even work if you’re a better-established small business owner doing only a small number of invoices each month. A few of our clients are switching from the Standard plan at $60 per month down to the Starter and saving themselves over $30 a month.

SME Financial is a Xero Gold Partner, which means our team gets a high level of training and support from Xero. We pass on that knowledge to our customers through our Xero training services and ongoing Xero support.

You can explore all the features here, and the changes are already in place so if you’re currently a Starter pack user you can start using them right now.

Questions about Xero? Wondering whether you’re in the right plan for your business needs? We can help. Get in touch with SME Financial today.

Your home office: What expenses can you claim?

Home office expenses: a guide

Almost everyone has been working from home this year – some of us loved it, some of us hated it. But whether you love the chilled-out pyjama vibe or you’re longing for the bustle of a busy office, it does add a little extra to the power and water bills. 


So, how much can you claim in expenses when you’re working from home?


Home office expenses when you’re an employee


If you worked from home during Lockdown, is your employer required to cover some of your home office costs? Sorry, no. Despite earlier rumours of an Inland Revenue sum of $15 a week for those working from home, there is no obligation for your employer to recompense you for extra power, water, gas or phone costs. 


Your employer can choose to pay you up to $20 a week tax-free for expenses or a one-payment of up to $400 for furniture; that money comes out of their own pockets, not the government’s. 


Home office tax deductions – what can you claim? 


Whether you’re a contractor, sole trader, in a partnership or you own your own business, you can claim expenses for your home office. But the amount you’ll read about on the Inland Revenue website is – perhaps intentionally – much lower than what you might actually be able to claim. 


Inland Revenue provides a simplified per metre calculation rate of $42.75 per square metre for your home office for the 2019-2020 year. The calculations provided by Inland Revenue are extremely conservative and don’t take into account all the ways you might use your home. For example, your garage is excluded on this visual guide. But if you’re a contractor who uses the garage to store work tools and equipment at night, that’s a business use. And the numbers use a dedicated home office as an example, when thousands of Kiwi business owners use the kitchen table as their office. How do you work that out? We can help. 


IR numbers are just a starting point


The number you’ll come up with using the online information is a baseline only – by making sure we fully understand the configuration of your home we could add considerably to that. As a guideline, you may be able to claim between $100 and $300 per month. Give us a call or drop us an email, and we can make sure you’re claiming as much as you’re entitled to. We can provide a new perspective on how you use your home and how your business is positioned as part of your household expenses. 


We always work within the tax laws, making sure our clients get the maximum benefit possible by ensuring we fully understand the way you work from home and then working to maximise their claims – we ask questions, we dig into your accounts, and we aim to minimise the amount of tax you have to pay.