Use a BAS Agent and Stress Less
“Doing the BAS” is one of the real low points of business ownership for many people. Business Activity Statements are complicated and time consuming to prepare, taking you away from more important business tasks – or eating into your personal time! Unless you’re an expert, you’re probably going to pay more than you really need to. Worse, you could mess it up and underpay your taxes. The Australian Tax Office doesn’t take misreporting lightly and you can potentially be stuck paying fines on top of the outstanding taxes.
In the past, at lot of people chose to hire a bookkeeper to do their BAS. It is a natural fit with the other services bookkeepers provide and they were cheaper than a Tax agent. The problem was, it wasn’t technically legal. There were regulations but they weren’t effectively enforced. An untrained, unskilled person could buy a bookkeeping software package and declare they were a bookkeeper and offer BAS services.
That all changed in 2009, when “registered BAS agents” were introduced as part of reforms in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009. It created a clear set of training, experience and professional standards a bookkeeper must achieve to offer BAS services for a fee or other reward. Penalties for unregistered bookkeepers advertising or providing BAS services increased. Several recent prosecutions, accompanied by hefty fines, indicate that enforcement of these regulations is much stricter. The net result? You, the client, can be much more confident you’ll receive the quality of work you require.
By hiring a BAS agent you can be sure of a few things:
• Your agent has completed a relevant, recognised accounting and/or bookkeeping course (like the Certificate IV in Bookkeeping).
• Your agent is bound by a strict code of conduct and their registration is terminated if there is misconduct.
• Your agent is undergoing continuous professional development.
• Your agent has professional indemnity insurance that protects you financially if the agent makes an error, omission or some other act.
• Your agent has developed over 1,000 hours relevant work experience in the three years before registering.
Ultimately, this means your agent will have the skills, experience and knowledge to produce your BAS documents accurately, correctly and in a timely fashion. They also have very strong incentives to act professionally and in your best interests!
You can help you BAS agent out in a couple of ways. First, you can provide complete and accurate data for them to work with, as it’s impossible to produce correct documents without good information. Second, give them time to work through your records, prepare and lodge the statements. If you need help with your BAS, get in contact and have your financial documents ready to go weeks in advance.
It’s not surprising that many businesses simply hire a BAS agent to set up and maintain their financial recording and reporting systems in the first place. That way when it comes to BAS lodgement time, the agent will have all the information they need, correctly recorded and prepared. Your BAS will be prepared accurately and on time, ensuring you get the maximum benefits and avoid fines or penalties. As a bonus, BAS agents have an extended period of time to lodge BAS. This will allow you more time to get your paperwork in order and sort out cash flow to make any required payments.
Can a BAS agent do my Income Tax Return?
No, definitely not! BAS agent registration extends as far as BAS services. You’ll need a Tax agent to complete your income tax return. Tax agents have higher training and experience requirements and can prepare pretty much all kinds of tax returns, including BAS. They also charge higher rates and typically won’t provide the day-to-day bookkeeping services a BAS-certified bookkeeper would, so are a less popular choice for BAS services than BAS agents.
Using an unregistered agent means you lose all the legal and financial protections that come with a registered agent. Plus, how do you know that person has the skills and experience to get the best results for you?
At the end of the day
Registered BAS agents exist to serve your BAS reporting needs. Hire a BAS agent and implement the systems they need to keep accurate financial records. You’ll be able to get on with running your business, confident that your BAS reports will be accurate, lodged on time and produce the best result for you.