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Resources » Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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Q – Are all bookkeepers providing BAS services now registered and qualified?

No. Unfortunately not all bookkeepers are aware of the new Tax Agent Services Act 2009, yet all those registered are listed on the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) website ( Also be aware that bookkeepers who are providing these services and not registered can face hefty penalties.

Q – I am almost finished my Cert IV in Accounting (2 subjects to go), does this mean that I can become a contract bookkeeper?

Within the new Tax Agent Services Act 2009 which came to life on 1st March 2010 the answer is MAYBE! Can you prove that you have the 1400 hours of relevant experience, which is required to register as a BAS Agent? If you cannot prove this and you genuinely have not done these hours, perhaps employment with a contract bookkeeper would be ideal, or working as an employee, gaining knowledge and experience.

Q – I have for the past 10 years been a bookkeeper, I have been competently doing the books for my various clients yet I do not have any qualifications, what is my best option?

Now that the transitional period under the TASA has ended you will need to attain your academic qualifications and when received you can then apply to the Tax Practitioners Board for registration.

Q – I heard that even though some bookkeepers are registered they are still not qualified, and what is the minimum qualification, and is this adequate?

Within the TASA 2009 there are transitional arrangements and that allows a BAS Agent two or three years to complete the necessary qualifications. At the end of that time they will need to apply for BAS Agent registration and show they meet all of the eligibility criteria, including the education components.

The minimum qualification is the Cert IV Financial Services (Accounting) or a Cert IV Financial Services (Bookkeeping). And there is a requirement to have successfully completed a course in basic GST/BAS taxation principals that is approved by the Board. (The later course is still in draft legislation).

Q – I was told that I have to join an Association?

Neither tax agents nor BAS Agents have to belong to an association.

Q – I work for an employer doing their books 2 days a week; do I need to register anywhere?

qualifications as we have heard on the grapevine from a source at the ATO that in many years to come there will be similar sanctions imposed – this is a rumour!

Q – I’m interested in how to become a bookkeeper?

This is a very open ended question and there are several answers. As a bookkeeper you can become a contract bookkeeper (BAS Agent), or be employed by a business as a bookkeeper, or be employed by a bookkeeping practice or be employed by Tax Agents or in accounting firms.

The first place to start would be to enrol in an institution to gain knowledge, and learn what bookkeeping is all about. It really isn’t just about ‘doing the books’ these days.

Q – I’ve heard that if I code transactions and process them into MYOB or QuickBooks for my clients that I need to be registered as a BAS Agent – I don’t do the BAS’s the client does – I just get the work ready?

I’ve heard that if I code transactions and process them into MYOB or QuickBooks for my clients that I need to be registered as a BAS Agent – I don’t do the BAS’s the client does – I just get the work ready?

Q – I’ve read that as a BAS Agent I need to have Professional Indemnity Insurance – how can I afford this, I only have 2 clients – can I get an exemption on this?

PI Insurance is now compulsory from 1st July 2011, and yes we all agree it is costly. With many insurers or brokers you can apply for funding (paid monthly), yet you have to apply for this.

If you only have 2 clients you may need to reconsider your career path – either to grow your business or to work for another bookkeeping practice or be employed with a business that requires a bookkeeper.

Q – If I make an honest mistake in my work, can I get sued by my client?

Firstly this is why we have Professional Indemnity Insurance for instances like this!

This is such an opened question, how big was the mistake, or how little was it? I take it by the question that this is a big mistake? If yes, than yes they can sue you. Please read the regulatory fact sheets under the Tax Practitioner Board website.

Q – My employer is a contract bookkeeper, do I need to register?

Is your employer a registered BAS Agent? Do they supervise your work? If yes, you may work under their direction and there is no need to register as a BAS Agent.

If no, does the client rely on someone else to help them comply with their BAS obligations? If someone else is the BAS expert then you do not need to be registered.

Q – The Tax Practitioners Board told me that I need to complete the GST/BAS taxation unit to be considered as a fully registered BAS Agent.

That is correct, the basic GST/BAS taxation principals course that has been approved by the Board, needs to be completed if you are a registered BAS Agent, even if you have a Economics Degree. This course is still in draft legislation yet the Board have as an interim measure, until 29 February 2012, the BAS unit "FNSBKPG404A Carry out Business Activity Statements and Instalment Activity Statements" in the Cert IV Financial Services (Bookkeeping) and Cert IV Financial Services (Accounting) courses is an approved course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles.

Also the Board, in respect of applications for registration made from 1 October, 2010, will not approve that course where the assessment of the course has been effected solely through recognition of prior learning (RPL), without some form of independent formal assessment and testing having been conducted.

Q – What do accountants look for in a good bookkeeper?

Accountants want bookkeepers who know what they are doing? Sounds obvious but if you are competent, compliant, and qualified this is your greatest source of referrals. The Accountants want you to be able to:

  • Identify where transactions are to be coded to – either profit & loss or balance sheet
  • They need you to be able to take up the correct GST and know about the GST legislation
  • They need you to be able to reconcile all reconcilable accounts e.g. bank, credit cards, loans, PAYGW, Super, etc
  • They need you to be responsible with suspense accounts and report on any balances
  • They need you to be aware of your client’s industry and what is acceptable and what is not
  • They need you to be able to communicate with them, especially when help is needed
  • They need good bookwork and appropriate paperwork for the end of financial year statements
  • And of course there are many more aspects of this – just ask them what they want

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