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A bookkeeper, BAS Agent and Accountant walked into a bar…

Just kidding – numbers nerds don’t have a life!

So what is the difference is between a Bookkeeper, a BAS Agent and an Accountant?  And who do you need in your business?  They all serve a purpose – but a different purpose.

Sometimes we all just get lumped together in the “numbers nerds” pile – however I am here to tell you that what each of these roles can legally do is vastly different (bet you didn’t think it was going to get serious quite so quickly right?).

Here are some tips to help you work out who you need in your business and why.



Firstly, all three (Bookkeeper, BAS Agent and Accountant) have formal qualifications and training requirements.  The further up the food chain you go, the more strict the rules and requirements.

  • For a contract bookkeeper, the minimum requirement is a Certificate IV.  If the person does not have this qualification then they are not a qualified bookkeeper and I would not be trusting them to accurately prepare your financial information.
  • A bookkeeper can help you keep track of income and expenses, ensure your paperwork is in order and help you with your accounting system (please note below the list of tasks a bookkeeper is unable to perform).
  • Some bookkeepers are also a BAS agent (which stands for Business Activity Statement Agent).  This is a further qualification and requires the person to be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.  This comes with further training, insurance and legal requirements that a BAS Agent must adhere to.
  • A BAS agent can provide higher services than that of a bookkeeper – for example they can code GST transactions and choose the relevant tax codes, prepare and process payroll, report superannuation and prepare and lodge Instalment Activity Statements and Business Activity Statements.  A contract bookkeeper who is not a BAS agent is unable to do ANY of these services unless they are supervised by a BAS or Tax agent.
  • A BAS agent may be able to get you an extension of time to lodge and pay your quarterly BAS and they should have a thorough understanding of both the payroll and GST regime – helping you navigate those areas of your business with ease.
  • An accountant has an accounting degree – this can be any accounting degree.  An accountant is not necessarily a BAS agent so always wise to check this if you want them to prepare and lodge your BAS for you.
  • An accountant can then be classified yet again into two main areas – those that deal with tax returns (Tax agents) and those that don’t (funnily enough these are not tax agents).  Tax agents are the only body legally allowed to lodge tax returns and charge a fee.
  • An accountant who is not a tax agent can still be of huge value (especially if they have CPA or CA qualifications) – as they have a greater understanding of business operations, structure, cash flow forecasting, budgeting, sales planning, pricing structures, profit and cost analysis – the list goes on.  These management skills are simply not taught in the bookkeeping certificate (in my opinion – not intending to start a war here).

So there you have it….in a nutshell the difference between the types of numbers nerds in our industry.  So what skills do I have – so glad you asked!

I am a Chartered Accountant and BAS Agent and I have been working as an accountant since I graduated way back in…..well lets just say it is getting close 20 years.  My main focus is on empowering business owners to understand their financial information and their accounting software – and I mean really understand it.  Entering data into a cloud based system is all well and good, but if you don’t know what you are doing, or don’t know what the system is telling you, then the whole process is pointless.

I teach my clients that you are never too old to learn financial information – sometimes you just need to be taught in a different way.  We love having a hands on approach with our clients and find this always gets the best results (and the biggest smiles).

Our specialty is getting you to use your accounting software effectively, efficiently and accurately. We provide remote Xero/QBO and Myob training sessions, we provide full suite bookkeeping services (payroll, BAS, data entry, allocating bills, supplier payments, chasing unpaid invoices – the works), plus we also do payroll only packages including Single Touch Payroll obligations. We love helping you understand your ATO requirements including planning for GST and tax to ensure your cashflow is not blown out of the water.  We help setup budgets and cash flows and deep dive into your financials and analyse what those pesky numbers are telling you. We help sole traders understand their pricing and how that impacts on their break even points and the ability to pay themselves a “wage” and survive.

So what are you waiting for, maybe a financial coaching session or a Xero/Myob/QBO training session is just what you have been looking for to boost your bottom line.  Let’s have a chat and discuss who you need in your business…maybe it is me.