On considering whether to utilise a bookkeeper or a registered BAS Agent there is certain information a taxpayer has to keep in mind.
A Code of Professional Conduct (Code) governs the ethical and professional standards of BAS agents. As a registered BAS Agent the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has imposed a number of responsibilities and requirements:
- Have to meet the minimum educational qualifications and relevant experience required.
- Must complete a minimum of 45 hours over a 3 year period of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses and seminars to remain updated in respect of GST tax law changes, to maintain their knowledge and skills relevant to the tax agent and BAS services they provide, and advise clients correctly about their rights and obligations.
- Must carry Professional Indemnity Insurance.
- A taxpayer who uses a BAS agent will benefit from “safe harbour” provisions as set out in the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (TAA). Under safe harbour provisions, taxpayers utilising the services of a BAS agent may not be liable for certain administrative penalties imposed by the ATO in certain circumstances. Some examples where the taxpayer is not liable but the BAS Agent is responsible for is failing to lodge the BAS return by the due date or making false or misleading statement ending in a shortfall of tax.
- A registered BAS Agent can fully assist a taxpayer’s business to comply with the ATO GST obligations.
- A taxpayer can benefit from the extended period of BAS lodgement by a BAS Agent, as there will be more time to prepare the BAS and extra time to pay their tax liability easing cash flow.
- Note: Not all bookkeepers are BAS Agents. Only BAS Agents are legally allowed to prepare and lodge BAS, whereas a bookkeeper cannot legally lodge BAS. Qualified tax professionals who have registered with Tax Practitioners Board can legally provide BAS services.