When you are running a fast growing business, you need to be able to trust the numbers you are using to make decisions. If you are looking to outsource your financials, you have 2 options: a bookkeeper or a BAS agent. Very few people understand the difference between a bookkeeper and a BAS Agent, so we will address their differences and similarities and how it will impact your business.
A bookkeepers role is generally bound to data entry. You’re likely to have used a bookkeeper for your business needs already if your transaction volume is growing. A bookkeeper is generally self taught in programs like MYOB or Xero, and has generally migrated to this role from a generic business administration role. Some diligent bookkeepers have done some formal training, like a Certificate IV to understand the basics of accounting, but there is no regulation or requirement for training when calling yourself a bookkeeper in Australia.
A Registered BAS Agent is a professional with the ability to handle all bookkeeping responsibilities while flying an important flag of differentiation. They must meet certain qualifications and follow strict professional guidelines, regular training courses and hold Professional Indemnity Insurance that keeps them (and their clients) protected from liability for any mistakes made during their work hours or accidents resulting thereof.
What is the difference between a bookkeeper and a BAS Agent? A simple answer would be that Bookkeepers handle a few tasks while BAS agents are able to carry a heavier load. Registered BAS Agents provide their business clients with much more clout when it comes to the ATO than bookkeepers do. But this isn’t quite accurate enough for what constitutes “the bigger picture.” Bookkeepers can perform some of these functions, but they’re limited in capacity; whereas registered BAS agents have much stronger abilities which allow them to assist their employers with various matters – things even employees may not do without permission or supervision from management.
- A bookkeeper is not required to be registered with the Tax practitioners board (TPB); a BAS agent must be registered by TPB and There are severe penalties for anyone providing BAS services for a fee or reward or advertising BAS services while unregistered.
- A bookkeeper can only perform everyday bookkeeping for work for their employer, whereas a BAS agent working out or advising about liabilities, obligations, or entitlements of clients under a BAS provision, or representing a client in their dealings with the Commissioner of Taxation in relation to a BAS provision.
- Bookkeepers are engaged to look after the data entry and run a few reports that summarise this data and that’s pretty much it. Registered BAS agents, however, can represent, advise, or assist their employer with certain matters – things bookkeepers are not allowed to do. These include GST, wine taxes, fuel taxes, luxury car taxes, FBT payments, all aspects of payroll relating to withholding tax amounts and reporting those amounts to the Tax office, any other PAYG withholding amounts, and all aspects of income tax payments via PAYG instalments. If your business requires representation to the Tax office on these matters, a BAS agent is required. Bookkeepers simply won’t do.
Bookkeepers and BAS agents are both essential for maintaining your accounting records. They report on the state of business finances while ensuring that books stay balanced appropriately, provide you with financial statements. Both BAS agents and experienced bookkeepers can interpret the financial situations of their business and help you, the owner, make business decisions based on their conclusions. Their work helps you know if your business is succeeding or if it requires taking a new direction to get back on track.
One similarity between bookkeepers and BAS agents is that they should be able to help you streamline the financial processes within your business.
If you need information on registered BAS agents – or need quality accounting from one – then don’t hesitate to contact iKeep Bookkeeping. We’d be happy to help you with any of your Bookkeeping and BAS agent needs.