So you have an awesome bookkeeper who keeps your business accounts super organised. S/he keeps on top of slow paying customers, reminds you to pay your bills, provides some pretty slick-looking reports and has those boring conversations with your accountant that you always avoid. Sounds like you’re onto a winner – good for you! Now you’ve decided to go one step further and you’re going to ask your bookkeeper to prepare and lodge your BAS on your behalf. Okay, well before you do, you’d better ask him/her these 3 key questions:
1. Are you a registered BAS Agent?
Legislation was introduced in March 2010 which provided for clearer regulation of the provision of BAS services by bookkeepers. The new law states that if a bookkeeper is receiving payment (or other reward) for providing BAS services, then s/he needs to register as a BAS Agent. If your bookkeeper is an employee of your business, this question is irrelevant because an employed bookkeeper does not need to be a registered BAS Agent. Similarly, if you prepare your own BAS for your business, you will not need to be registered. However, if you are engaging a bookkeeper who operates his/her own bookkeeping business, this question becomes very important indeed! If your contractor bookkeeper is not registered, s/he will not not legally be able to provide BAS services. It’s important to check if your contractor bookkeeper is registered – do this here tpb.gov.au. Using a non-registered bookkeeper to prepare and lodge your BAS is illegal – cover yourself and your business and only engage registered BAS Agents (like me!).
2. Are you qualified?
If you engage a BAS Agent to prepare and lodge your BAS, this person will undoubtedly be qualified because it’s a requirement of registration, so this question will not apply. On the other hand, if you are employing a bookkeeper, as an absolute minimum, s/he should be able to show evidence of having trained in the field of bookkeeping, whether this be via a TAFE course or something more intense, such as a Diploma of Accounting. In my opinion, only qualified bookkeepers should prepare and lodge a BAS.
TIP: Someone who only has certification in the software you use, is not necessarily a trained bookkeeper!
3. How much experience do you have?
Your employee bookkeeper should not attempt to prepare and/or lodge your BAS if s/he has little or no experience in doing so. Preparation of BAS requires specific technical knowledge and plenty of practice. If the answer is “I’ve never done one before”, I’d steer clear of letting the bookkeeper touch your BAS and perhaps look at providing some training. Again, if you are using a BAS Agent, you can be assured that this person has many hours experience in terms of BAS services. An applicant for BAS registration must show evidence of having a minimum of 1400 hours experience during the preceding 4 years.
So the gist of all of this is that you can certainly go ahead and ask your bookkeeper to do your BAS but you need to be very clear about your situation. If your bookkeeper is employed in your business, s/he is able to prepare and/or lodge your BAS on your behalf. However, if your bookkeeper is a contractor, s/he must be a registered BAS Agent in order to provide you with BAS services. A BAS Agent will be adequately qualified and experienced in BAS preparation and lodgement. Your employee bookkeeper should also show evidence of the appropriate qualifications and experience. If your employee does not, consider providing further training and guidance before letting him/her loose on your BAS!