How will the New Legislation affect employers?

Until the Tax Agent Services Act came into force 1 March 2010 bookkeepers were not governed by any industry standards such as a minimum education qualification, minimum standards of experience or the need to abide by a code of ethics as they do if they are an AAT Australia member. This has resulted in a number of inexperienced, unqualified practitioners calling themselves bookkeepers. Given the importance of ensuring financial information upon which BAS and tax returns rely upon is accurate, there has been a call within the industry to make sure bookkeepers are registered with a Board that they are accountable to.

Under the Tax Agents Legislation all bookkeepers wanting to prepare and lodge BAS for a fee must be registered and abide by certain standards to remain registered such as having: a minimum qualification of Certificate IV Financial Services (Accounting) or Financial Services (Bookkeeping), 1 400 hours of relevant industry experience; professional indemnity insurance; and abide by the Board’s code of professional conduct.

Also under this legislation the ATO will waive penalties for genuine error or omission where the BAS is prepared and lodged by a registered bookkeeper.

All businesses employing an external bookkeeper should be aware of this change and how it will affect their business. Businesses can avoid taking a compliance risk and engage/employ an AAT Australia member.

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  • One national Tax Practitioners Board, independent of the ATO, administers and registers tax agents, BAS Agents and specialist (restricted) agents 
  • Tax Agents are able to advise, interpret and work with all elements of Tax Law

  • BAS Agents are able to advise, interpret, and work with clients completing the BAS Provision obligations.

  • Restricted Agent licences will be granted to specialist advisors such as Payroll, customs and Research & Development.

  • Agents will have access to the ATO tools and resources and preferential contact points.

  • BAS Agents will have been recently formally qualified, experienced and competent to assist with the BAS Provisions.

  • BAS Agents will have Professional Indemnity Insurance

  • BAS Agents must continually update their knowledge and competence through continuing education.

  • People who are not registered as Agents must NOT: advise, represent the client, interpret the legal application of tax for a client, provide tax advice or assistance, be relied on for their tax advice or assistance.

  • A person may be in a business where they are subject to necessary supervisory arrangements by another registered agent

  • Non-BAS Agents can provide bookkeeping services but not GST or BAS Expertise.