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What is the Difference Between a Bookkeeper and a BAS Agent?

When looking for someone to manage the bookkeeping needs of your business, you may be wondering if you need a bookkeeper, a BAS agent or both. While you may assume both a bookkeepers and BAS agents’ responsibilities would be similar, there are distinct differences between the varying roles that each perform.

Read below to learn the differences between the responsibilities of a bookkeeper and the responsibilities of a BAS agent including:

  • Can a bookkeeper complete and undertake BAS services?
  • What are the responsibilities of a bookkeeper?
  • What are the responsibilities of a BAS agent?

Can a bookkeeper complete and undertake BAS services?

Some bookkeepers concentrate solely on bookkeeping while other bookkeepers are also BAS agents, meaning they perform both responsibilities. For a bookkeeper to provide BAS services, they must be a registered BAS agent. Only registered BAS agents have authority to interact with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on a business’s behalf unless they are an employee.

To check if a BAS agent is registered, you can enter their details in the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) register or look for the registered practitioner symbol.

What are the responsibilities of a bookkeeper?

Bookkeeping duties can vary depending on the type of business and size of a business. A bookkeeper’s role can also vary depending on if they are managing all the bookkeeping responsibilities or assisting in certain areas.

Responsibilities of a bookkeeper can include:

  • Record financial transactions
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Manage bank statements
  • Process accounts receivable
  • Process accounts payable
  • Prepare financial reports
  • Work with the business Tax Agent / Accountant to assist with taxation compliance
  • Work with the Business owner or Business Management on some human resource functions and some payroll functions

What are the responsibilities of a BAS agent?

BAS service is defined in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) as:

  • ascertaining or advising about the liabilities, obligations or entitlements of a client under a BAS provision; or
  • representing a client in their dealings with the Commissioner of Taxation in relation to a BAS provision; and
  • where it is reasonable to expect a client will rely on the service to satisfy liabilities or obligations or to claim entitlements under a BAS provision.

A registered BAS Agent must adhere to the code of professional conduct for tax agents. The Code sets out principles under five separate categories including honesty and integrity, independence, confidentiality, competence. Additionally, they must undertake continuing professional education programs throughout each year.

BAS services can include but are not limited to:

  • ABN, TFN Business name registration
  • GST, PAYG registration
  • Software installation and training
  • Single Touch Payroll (STP) processing
  • EOFY reporting for STP
  • Superannuation
  • 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

Note: A BAS Agent can perform all the duties and responsibilities of a bookkeeper, and a multitude of other functions, and is usually at an advanced level of bookkeeping knowledge and experience.

FREED UP Accounting & Bookkeeping Solutions in Western Australia are your registered and certified bookkeeping and BAS agents and can assist with the bookkeeping needs of your business.

At FREED UP Accounting & Bookkeeping Solutions, our main principal, Naomi is a registered BAS Agent (#25959844) with the ATO. She is also a qualified Accountant with a Bachelor of Financial Admin (Accounting) and a member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers and the Australian Bookkeepers Network.

Our team are ready to get to work and can manage or assist in the ongoing bookkeeping and BAS services for your business. Call and speak to Naomi today on 0438 977 767.

Source: The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers – Client eBrief September 2021

Tax Practitioners Board – BAS Agent