Do You Need a Bookkeeper or an Accountant? Or Someone Else?

There are many finance professionals — who does your business need?

find a good local bookkeeper
Does your business need a bookkeeper, accountant or perhaps just a BAS agent – or a little bit of everyone?

WE’VE MENTIONED PREVIOUSLY THAT finding a bookkeeper, when you may not know much about bookkeeping, can be a difficult task.

In fact, a lot of new business owners assume their accountant will take care of everything for them, which may be costly if their accountant has to perform a year’s worth of bookkeeping in order to file the business’s tax return. But bookkeepers and accountants can work harmoniously in your business.

As a general rule, every business needs at least two finance professionals working on their business accounts, but which two professionals you’ll need to hire depends on your business needs. If you’re not sure who you need to hire for your business, here’s a cheat sheet to help you out.

Bookkeepers (not registered with the TPB)

An independent bookkeeper not employed by an accountant and not registered with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB) may only perform basic bookkeeping services, such as the entering of receipts, coding financial transactions, generating invoices and, possibly, some accounts receivable work. If you hire this type of bookkeeper, you’ll still need an accountant.

BAS agents

BAS agents must, by law, register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), which certifies that they are qualified and have completed the necessary continuing education requirements to perform the tasks of a BAS agent, which involves carrying out most of the bookkeeping tasks mentioned above, in addition to preparing and lodging business activity statements on a business’s behalf.

If your business is registered for GST, you will need to file regular activity statements. If you hire a BAS agent, you’ll also need an accountant. In some instances, you may find a BAS agent who’s also a registered tax agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.

Tax agents

Although tax agents, like BAS agents, must also register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), a tax agent is focused on income tax — how much income you have to declare, how much you can claim back, etc.

This is distinct from a BAS agent who is concerned with the day-to-day financial tasks of your business (bookkeeping and BAS lodgements). That said, some tax agents will also perform some the basic bookkeeping tasks on a regular basis, though they primarily specialise in lodging tax returns.

If you’re not registered for GST, and your tax agent will also perform regular bookkeeping tasks (or you can do it yourself), you may not need to hire an accountant. In some instances, you may find a tax agent who’s also a registered BAS agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.

Accountants

An accountant is mostly concerned with planning and strategy. Unlike bookkeepers and BAS or tax agents, an accountant will assess and advise you on what actions you should take to maximise your income. Great accountants will get involved with planning the direction of your business and ensure it’s been structured properly and that you’re meeting any additional tax obligations.

They’ll also help you to make strategic purchases for equipment and machinery, and work with your BAS agent or bookkeeper to ensure these decisions are reflected in your daily financial records. An accountant is also able to prepare and lodge tax returns on your behalf.

How much should I pay a bookkeeper?

Check out the National Bookkeeping Directory, which features the details of bookkeepers, capable of doing data entry and clerical tasks, through to high-level accounting work as undertaken by BAS agents, accountants and CFOs.

You can also see the National Bookkeeping rates page to find out what level bookkeeper your business needs.


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BAS News Flash: BAS Agents Can Now Lodge TPARs

If you're a registered BAS agent you just became a whole lot more valuable to your clients!
If you’re a registered BAS agent you just became a whole lot more valuable to your clients!

BAS agents can further specialise in the construction industry

WE LIKE TO KEEP our online cloud accounting course graduates up to date with changes to the bookkeeping industry and today is no exception!

If you’re a registered BAS agent working in the building and construction industry, then we’ve got some major news for you: the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) announced in July that BAS agents can now lodge Taxable Payments Annual Reports (TPAR).

Making more money as a bookkeeper

In an earlier blog, we talked about how you can improve the rate you earn by specialising.  Carving out a niche for yourself — for instance, honing your skills in a particular sector, like the building industry, with all its complexities — will also see you able to earn top dollar (this is exactly what the professionals at Buildon Bookkeeping do).

Taxable Payments Annual Reports (TPAR’s)

Before you can register with the TPB as a Tax/BAS agent, you’ll first need to work under the supervision of another Tax/BAS agent. If you are planning to work in the building and construction industry, you might consider working under the supervision of a Tax/BAS agent providing bookkeeping services within the industry already — so you can get a handle on lodging TPARs.

TPARs are an annual report outlining every payment made to suppliers and contractors for that financial year. Every entity or business within the building and construction industry must now prepare one.

When TPARs first came into effect in July last year, only tax agents were able to prepare the report, but on 15 July 2013, the TPB announced that BAS agents could now provide this service, which must be lodged by the 21July every year.

But wait, there’s more! The TPB has also amended the Tax Agents Services Act (2009) to allow BAS agents to provide the following services:

  • Superannuation Guarantee Contribution and Superannuation Guarantee Charge work
  • Superannuation Contribution payment and reporting services

As the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers understands it, BAS agents will not have to become registered with the TPB to provide these services, even though they were typically services carried out by a Tax agent.

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If you’re a registered BAS agent, you just become a whole lot more valuable to your clients, particularly if you work within the building and construction industry.

If you’re still unsure about the services you can now provide your clients, see the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers website, and for more information on lodging TPARs, click here.