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Bookkeeping - what service can I legally provide?

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Old 16-12-10
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Default Bookkeeping - what service can I legally provide?

I am looking to start a bookkeeping business in the near future and I need some advice (from somebody in the know) as to what bookkeeping services I could legally provide, given the changes in legislation this year.

I have been doing as much research as I possibly can with regards to whether I am able to register as a BAS Agent. Whilst I have the educational requirements covered, I am not sure that I have the 1400 hours experience. Furthermore, I’m finding it rather difficult to gauge what this means – whether it relates solely to BAS work (i.e., lodgement & preparation). I have lodged somewhere over 150 BAS’s & IAS’s under a BAS/Tax Agent.

I have an accounting degree & have also completed the two compulsory Certificate IV units. I have prepared BAS’s from raw information (mostly bank statements and occasionally invoices) by entering data and making adjustment journal entries where relevant.

As a bookkeeper, I would be inclined to provide data-entry & do any required adjustment entries. Additionally, I’d be keen to analyse figures (month-to-month or qtr-to-qtr) and act as an ‘internal accountant’ for a small business using KPI’s (accounting ratios).

Ideally, I would also be able to communicate well with the client’s accountant (having some understanding of what they need/want) and they could lodge the Activity Statements if I am unable to (until I ‘clock up’ enough hours).

What I essentially want to know is whether this is all legal / feasible? I don’t want to get myself – or anybody else – into trouble with the ATO.

I appreciate your assistance

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Old 16-12-10
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Default Re: Bookkeeping - what service can I legally provide?

to provide contract bookkeeping services of any description you must register as a bas agent. if you have prepared 150 bass then you should be able to get the tax agent that supervised you to sign off on your work experience.

I would apply to register the worst that can happen is the tax agents board will knock you back and tell you what you need to do to correct any problems

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Old 18-12-10
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Default Re: Bookkeeping - what service can I legally provide?

We're not lawyers so we can't give legal advice - Suggest you seek professional legal advice with regard to the interpretation of the Tax Agents Services Act 2009 - Seems it's still being interpreted and much of it has not been fully worked out or explained. Have a look at the summary here

"to provide contract bookkeeping services of any description you must register as a bas agent." - doesn't seem to be necessarily correct if you have no intention of providing BAS services or doing any tax work - there doesn't seem to be any need for a bookkeeper to register as a BAS agent if you are simply doing data entry - or "working under the direction" of a registered BAS Agent

We've spoken to a couple of "BAS Agents in transition" that do not have anywhere close to 1400 hours experience yet have been registered by the TPB

Working as a freelance bookkeeper can be very different to working in the corporate world - Many bookkeepers/accountants struggle to get started on their own, which is why we produced an Ebook "Secrets To Finding Bookkeeping Clients" which will answer many questions you have, and others you may not have even thought about

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Default Re: Bookkeeping - what service can I legally provide?

Yep, I've read the ebook...
As for my query, I'm wondering whether I ought to call the ATO & discuss my 'idea', so that I can get everything straight.

Also, has anyone heard much about the ABN? Supposedly you can lodge Activity Statements via ABN BAS...though it costs $462 a year to be a member. They are meant to act as BAS Agents for bookkeepers who can't / don't wish to become BAS Agents...

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Default Re: Bookkeeping - what service can I legally provide?

Hi Mat_G

Good luck with trying to get any commitment from the ATO (generally they will commit to NOTHING)

Maybe contact the Tax Practioners Board - Seems they're still working out the definition of the 1400 hours - Lodge your application and see what happens

ABN is NOT the ONLY option to satisfy "working under the direction of a Registered Tax Agent" - they charge about $40/ lodgement using their BAS Wizard (ontop of the ABN annual membership fee)

Maybe speak to your accountants and see if you can work under their "direction" . Other options are to do the bookkeeping and have your clients' accountants lodge their BAS

The legislation seems to suggest that unregistered BAS Agents/ bookkeepers can still do the bookwork but not lodge BAS or charge for "BAS Services"

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Default Re: Bookkeeping - what service can I legally provide?

"BAS Services" include coding accounts, so yes you can do the bookkeeping as long as you never set up a new account in a clients system or make a decision about GST coding.

(in other words to do any reasonable amount of bookkeeping you will need to register)

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Default Re: Bookkeeping - what service can I legally provide?

Hi Mat_G,

Whilst I won't express a legal opinion via the forums, this is certainly something that we can give you legal advice on. That way, you'll have some certainty moving forward.

Feel free to check out our website (www.avenuesolutions.com.au) which has plenty of general and pricing information.

For the record, our advisers are lawyers and/or accountants and registered Tax Agents, so we are reasonably familiar with the new regulatory regime which applies to Tax and BAS Agents.

Best regards,

Richard

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