The Difference Between A Bookkeeper And A BAS Agent

If you’re ready to outsource your bookkeeping and tax to a professional, you might be wondering whether you need to work with a Bookkeeper or a BAS Agent. 

Bookkeeping is more than data entry. Having accurate and up-to-date finances is an essential part of the success of your business. Yet, it can be a steep learning curve trying to manage it all yourself. That’s why many small businesses choose to outsource their bookkeeping to a trusted expert. 

In this post, we will explain the key differences between a Bookkeeper and a BAS agent, so that you can choose the right professional for your business.


1. Responsibilities of a Bookkeeper

Bookkeeping is usually one of the first services that many tradies (and small businesses in general) will outsource. 

A Bookkeeper is a professional who can help you with the day-to-day tasks involved in keeping your financial records up-to-date to free up your time and enable you to focus on what YOU do best. 

While bookkeeping responsibilities will look different from business to business, there are some common tasks a Bookkeeper does: 

  • Managing bank feeds and bank reconciliations to ensure the data is accurate
  • Processing and managing Accounts Receivable
  • Keeping a record of all the financial transactions (incomings and outgoings) of the business, usually with the help of accounting software such as Xero (as long as the business is not registered for GST – if any transactions have GST the business will need to use a Bookkeeper who is also a BAS Agent)
  • Processing and managing Accounts Payable
  • Preparing financial reports
  • Working with a Tax Agent or Accountant to assist with tax compliance

The main limitation of Bookkeepers who provide services as a professional is that they also need to be also registered as a BAS Agent (by law), otherwise they are limited to doing non-GST bookkeeping (for businesses not registered for GST). Only BAS Agents (bookkeepers with additional registrations and qualifications) can do bookkeeping for GST registered businesses, prepare and lodge Activity Statements, deal with the Tax Office, handle payroll and associated payroll tasks such as superannuation, payroll tax and STP.

The only exception to the above is Bookkeepers who are employees of the business, however they still need to have a high level of knowledge and skill to do bookkeeping, handle GST transactions and payroll properly and accurately otherwise it may adversely impact the business.

2. Responsibilities of a BAS Agent

A registered BAS Agent must hold the required qualifications and experience (as outlined in the Tax Agent Regulations 2009, or TASR) to provide advice and manage your Business Activity Statement (BAS) on your behalf. 

A registered BAS Agent can provide your business with a range of advanced bookkeeping services, including: 

  • GST and PAYG registration
  • ABN, TFN and business name registration
  • Preparing and lodging BAS / IAS (either monthly or quarterly)
  • Software installation and training
  • Working with the business owner or management to process payroll and employee entitlements
  • Superannuation
  • Taxable payments annual reporting
  • Single Touch Payroll (STP) processing
  • Quarterly and end of year reporting
  • Dealing with the Tax Office on your behalf

It might be helpful to note that a BAS Agent can perform all the duties and responsibilities of a Bookkeeper, as well as a range of other advanced functions. Due to their registration requirements, BAS Agents need to continually maintain their knowledge to stay across any legislative changes and important updates. 

Please note: BAS Agents cannot complete Income Tax Returns on your behalf as this is the role of a Registered Tax Agent.

3. Educational requirements of a Bookkeeper and BAS Agent

Bookkeepers are required to complete a Certificate IV in Financial Services (Bookkeeping) from a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), in order to work in this capacity. 

A BAS Agent must do additional study and complete a Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) approved course in GST and BAS taxation principles and obtain a minimum of 1000 hours of work experience under supervision of a tax professional. 

It’s this additional training and experience that allows BAS Agents to much better support a business with both their bookkeeping, GST and payroll functions. 

4. Why would a business need a BAS agent?

Every type of business can benefit from working with a BAS Agent to make sure that their financials are up-to-date and in compliance with the Tax Office. 

BAS agents hold training and skills to manage day-to-day financial tasks, as well as specialised skills and accreditation that allows them to manage and advise on more complex factors such as GST, BAS and payroll systems, and presenting to the Tax Office on behalf of your business. 

Even if you’re not yet registered for GST, a BAS Agent can support you as you scale your business. 

While BAS Agents may charge a bit more than a Bookkeeper, you’re investing in the higher level of knowledge and expertise they bring to the financial health of your business.

Key takeaways

As a business owner, if you’re wanting professional bookkeeping services that include BAS services, you will need to work with a Registered BAS Agent. 

If you’re unsure whether your Bookkeeper is also a registered BAS Agent, you can find out by searching the register on the TPB Website

Get professional help 

If you’re ready to put your bookkeeping in trusted hands, finding the right-fit bookkeeping services can be a game changer. 

Your Trade Bookkeeping provides a complete bookkeeping, BAS lodgement and payroll service for Tradies in Australia.

We work virtually, to provide professional bookkeeping and BAS services to business owners across Australia. We’re here to give you rock-solid peace of mind about where your business is at financially, so you can focus on doing what you love and leave the financial side of things in experienced hands. 

To find out more about how professional bookkeeping services can save you time and money, phone Deb today on 0428 954 577, or book a Free Strategy Call here.

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