Benefits of Using a Certified Bookkeeper and Registered BAS Agent

If your business is registered for GST, the ATO requires you to lodge a Business Activity Statement (BAS). The BAS helps you report and pay taxes including GST, PAYG instalments and PAYG withholding tax.

Registered BAS Agents are there to help you navigate the ever changing minefield of the Australian taxation system, obtain the maximum benefits and avoid penalties.

Before finding out exactly what they can do for you, let’s begin with their qualifications.

Qualifications
The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) provide an overview of the educational requirements set out in the Tax Agents Services Act 2009 (TASA).

To become a registered BAS agent, you must;
1. Be fit and proper
2. Have minimum formal qualifications (eg Certificate IV in Bookkeeping)
3. Continue to have sufficient, ongoing, continual relevant experience
4. Have an appropriate level of Professional Indemnity Insurance
5. Undergo continuing professional education
6. Maintain professionalism in accordance with at least the statutory code of conduct

Adherence with the code of conduct reinforces the concepts of:
• Honesty and Integrity
• Independence
• Confidentiality

What can they do?
To render BAS services in Australia, you must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) as a BAS Agent. The majority of services provided by bookkeepers are BAS services.

According to the ICB, a registered BAS Agent can advise a client, provide certainty to a client or represent that client to the tax office in relation to:
• All GST matters
• All Wine Tax, Fuel Tax, Luxury Car Tax matters
• Payment of FBT
• All aspects of Payroll that relate to the withholding of tax amounts and the reporting of that amount to the employee and the Tax office
• All aspects of other PAYG Withholding amounts: ie no ABN, Interest & Dividend
• All aspects of the payment of income tax via PAYG Instalments
• All aspects of the Taxable Payments Annual Reporting system
• All aspects of Superannuation Guarantee system as related to payroll & the Charge

Benefits of Using a Certified Bookkeeper & Registered BAS Agent
There are numerous benefits to using a Registered BAS Agent. Apart from having the necessary qualifications and experience, it is an ICB requirement that BAS Agents undertake relevant training and update their knowledge. This training is both provided by and monitored by the ICB. Agents’ skills and knowledge are periodically re-assessed to ensure your Agent remains competent to perform professional bookkeeping services. A minimum of 45 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) must be undertaken within a standard three year registration period, with a minimum of five hours each year and records of CPE must be kept.

Through the ICB, BAS Agents also have access to the most up-to-date information on software and banking techniques. Using current technology means higher efficiency. They also provide current guidance on tax matters affecting the clients business.

What this means for you is that while you are busy running your business, you can have confidence that your BAS Agent has the most up-to-date knowledge.

BAS Agents can also receive technical support from the ICB if required, and networking with other ICB members provides a further valuable resource.

The ICB professional Code of Conduct requires Agents to meet the standards expected of a professional service provider. This is also monitored.

The ICB sets their standards high and they follow up on compliance. Because they have confidence in their members, your Agent is covered by the ICB minimum Professional Indemnity Requirements. This means they have a decent Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) cover. The benefit to you is that when you use a Registered BAS Agent, you can be assured that you have a level of security that, should the Member make a mistake in some respect which has financial consequence for you (the client), the PII policy will assist in meeting those consequences.

The benefits of using a Registered BAS Agent are clear. They have the training, skills, and the up-to-date knowledge to ensure that the tax laws are being correctly applied to your business, and you have peace of mind.