BOOKKEEPER VS BAS AGENT
And Why Is It Important To Know The Difference?
Are all bookkeepers also BAS agents? Are all BAS Agents also bookkeepers? The short answer is no, not all bookkeepers are BAS agents, and yes, all BAS agents are bookkeepers. So then, what are the differences between the two?
Many people think of bookkeepers as math nerds who organise your financials into spreadsheets and give you some numbers to look at. And, some people calling themselves ‘bookkeepers’, may not be doing much more than that. However, credible bookkeepers are much more than this, offering a wide range of services to keep your business operating as efficiently as possible. A few, like Positive Traction Bookkeeping, have an extensive history of business management and experience that allows them to offer extremely inciteful advice and services beyond the norm. Furthermore, the more outstanding bookkeepers out there can be nothing short of indispensable in terms of alerting a business owner/manager of upcoming financial issues that need attention. They may be able to provide solutions and pre-empt fees, penalties and costs, saving your business money. Sometimes the bookkeeper is an employee acting as a bookkeeper for an employer. It’s likely those bookkeepers’ work is limited and your accountant then needs to do a lot of work (at a higher rate than most qualified bookkeepers) to finalise your books. This is often false economy where the money you may save by having an employee doing your books is well and truly negated by the cost of the accountant fees.
Many bookkeepers, whether operating as a sole trader in their own business or as an employee for other people, are actually unqualified. This doesn’t mean they aren’t experienced and good bookkeepers, indeed many are just that. However, it also means many are not. To become a qualified bookkeeper, a person must study and pass Certificate 4 in Accounting & Bookkeeping.
BAS (Business Activity Statement) Agents
A BAS agent is, essentially, an advanced bookkeeper who can legally look after much more of your business financial requirements and further lessen the need to engage your accountant. To become a BAS agent, a person must not only study and pass Certificate 4 in Accounting & Bookkeeping, but they must also be able to prove several years and thousands of hours of service as a bookkeeper lodging business activity statements under qualified supervision such as an accountant. On top of that, to remain a registered BAS agent, the BAS agent must undertake continuing professional education programs every year, whereas a bookkeeper (qualified or unqualified) is under no obligation to keep up with education or the changing rules and regulations landscape of bookkeeping and accounting.
Most business owners/managers, whose business is registered for GST, will be familiar with the dreaded BAS and IAS (Instalment Activity Statement) if applicable and know the importance of always accounting for these. For those smaller business owners/managers who are not familiar, every business that is registered for GST must provide a business activity statement at regular intervals specified by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). This interval is usually monthly or quarterly. Both types of activity statements are a report to the ATO to determine and pay your tax liabilities at the one time.
So then, what is the benefit of a BAS agent? In a nutshell, a BAS agent is not only a more advanced bookkeeper, they are someone who is keeping abreast of the latest changes to the rules and regulations, and someone who can do much more of the accounting duties which thereby lessens your need to engage your accountant.
Responsibilities & Tasks Of Each
Below is a breakdown of the various, common services and responsibilities of both the bookkeeper and the BAS agent, remembering that the BAS agent can do all of the bookkeeper’s work for you as well.
Bookkeeper Services List
Although the services provided by a bookkeeper can vary greatly from business to business depending on the specific needs that business may have, or the industry it is in, this is a list of the common services bookkeeper can legally provide.
- Record financial transactions
- Bank reconciliations
- Manage bank feeds
- Process accounts receivable
- Process accounts payable
- Work with the business Tax Agent/Accountant to assist with taxation compliance
BAS Agent Services List
On top of being highly capable and legally allowed to provide the bookkeeper’s services, the registered BAS agent can also provide the following.
- ABN, TFN Business name registration
- GST, PAYG registration
- Software installation and training
- Single Touch Payroll (STP) processing
- EOFY reporting for STP
- Taxable payments annual report
- Preparation and lodgement of BAS/IAS – Monthly or Quarterly
- Complex budgeting
- Reporting – quarterly review/year-end review
- Representation in dealing with the Commissioner of Taxation
A BAS agent has, and continues to undergo, more training, education and certification than bookkeeper. This obviously results in a knowledgeable professional who is more likely to be a greater asset to your business. Whether or not you need a BAS agent as opposed to a bookkeeper or vice versa depends on your business’ needs. In the end, having a BAS agent bookkeeper looking after your business’ financials sure can’t hurt.