Do I need a Bookkeeper, BAS Agent or Accountant?


Managing your business accounts is vital to the success of your business. Getting professional help with your books, finances and taxation is almost essential. While the answer to whether you need help is a simple one, knowing what type of help your business needs can get complicated.

Bookkeepers and Accountants perform distinctly different roles. Knowing the differences can help decide what help you need and how often you need it. It is also worth knowing what authority they have in regards to tax advice and lodgement.

Role of a Bookkeeper

A Bookkeeper is often the first service most businesses outsource. Having this attention to detail dedicated to the movement of money in your business is invaluable. Much like a scorekeeper on the sidelines of your business, they keep track of everything and turn what can often seem like chaos into a meaningful set of numbers.

Bookkeepers generally undertake the following tasks:

  • Record all transactions and assign them to a relevant account.
  • Pay and issue invoices on your behalf.
  • Verify receipts.
  • Prepare basic financial statements.

A Bookkeeper can be registered as a BAS agent, however, if they are not, they will not be permitted to perform any services related to taxation.

What is a BAS Agent?

A BAS Agent has a specific accreditation to provide advice and manage your Business Activity Statement (BAS) on behalf of your business. They may indeed be a Bookkeeper or Accountant who has BAS Agent accreditation. This accreditation means they can provide advice or complete and lodge your BAS with the ATO and liaise with the ATO on your behalf as required.

BAS Agents undertake the following tasks:

  • Gather receipts and invoices for the purpose of completing a Business Activity Statement.
  • Prepare your BAS.
  • Lodge your BAS with the ATO.
  • Liaise with the ATO on your behalf in regard to any disputes or correspondence.

BAS Agents must have completed a Certificate IV in Financial Services (Bookkeeping) or (Accounting) from a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and successfully completed a Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) approved course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles. BAS Agents cannot however complete income tax returns.

Role of an Accountant

 An Accountant has a much broader scope than a Bookkeeper. If the Bookkeeper takes the score from the sidelines, an Accountant is more like the coach. They analyse and interpret the financial records created by the Bookkeeper in order identify problems or opportunities for the business to perform better. Accountants are also able to perform the tasks of a Bookkeeper but their time is better spent providing analysis and advice.

An Accountant can only perform tax related advice and complete tax returns if they are a Registered Tax Agent. They can also act as a BAS Agent if they are a Registered Tax Agent.

What is a Registered Tax Agent?

A Registered Tax Agent is an Accountant who is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPD). They are the only people in Australia who are able to provide the full suite of tax related services such as tax returns. They must have the necessary qualifications in Accounting and be actively registered with the TPD.

What if I’m using Cloud Accounting Software?

Using modern cloud accounting software certainly makes the bookkeeping and accounting job easier and allows you to see your books whenever you need in real-time. With any software program though, it’s only as good as the information going into it. Making sure your accounting software is setup correctly, used properly and makes full use of all the features is vital. Bookkeepers and Accountants play a key role in ensuring your business needs are met with your chosen software and help connect this to any external services to streamline administration.

What accounting help should I get for my business?

When getting help with your accounts, you need to consider what’s appropriate. If you are getting help from a Bookkeeper one day a week and they are also a BAS Agent this may cover your regular BAS reporting requirements. Yet you will still need an accountant to complete your annual tax return.

If you get help and advice from an Accountant they may employ a Bookkeeper who can perform the day-to-day reporting tasks with the Accountant providing regular advice. If the Accountant is also a Registered Tax Agent, they will also be able to complete and submit your tax returns for you also.

Saige Accountants are a well-stablished Business Accounting firm on the Central Coast which has been in operation for over 25 years. Saige have Accountants and Bookkeepers who work together to report and analyse your business performance and can coach you on the best way to structure and operate your business. As a Registered Tax Agent we can complete your BAS lodgements, business tax returns and personal tax returns. Talk to us about your business accounting and bookkeeping needs.

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Saige Financial Planning Pty Ltd and its advisers are Authorised Representatives of BD Financial Advisory Pty Ltd AFSL 502401 ABN 34 621 612 548. Please read our Financial Services Guide and consider our privacy policy. Any information on this website is general advice only and does not take into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Please consider your own circumstances and consider whether the advice is right for you before making a decision. Always obtain a Product Disclosure Document (if applicable) to understand the full implications and risks relating to the product and consider the Statement before making any decision about whether to acquire the financial product.

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