Why use a registered BAS agent?

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Last updated on November 20, 2018

I've seen firsthand the consequences of misreporting on a business activity statement (BAS). A friend who operated his own small business for many years was a good businessman, but not a good bookkeeper. Despite many painstaking hours managing his own books, he made mistakes and ultimately underreported his GST and other BAS obligations. On top of a big tax bill, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) fined him – the last thing he needed!

Word tax in red on diary page 30 June

What is BAS?

This is the pink form used to report a number of business tax obligations such as GST, pay as you go tax, fringe benefits tax, luxury car tax and wine equalisation tax.

Every GST-registered Australian business must regularly prepare and lodge BAS statements with the ATO. They are serious legal documents – you want a trained, certified professional handling that task.

What is a BAS agent?

BAS agents are a new type of financial services professional created in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009. They are bookkeepers qualified to prepare BAS statements.

Agent registration requirements include having one of several recognised qualifications and at least 1400 hours of work experience. Agents also need to have professional indemnity insurance, undergo continuous education and fulfil a range of other conditions. Registrations can be quickly verified using the Tax Practitioner Board's online register.

What are the benefits of using a BAS agent?

My friend, like many others, found his BAS too complicated to prepare on his own, yet his business wasn't big enough to employ a bookkeeper. Fortunately, BAS agents can help with:

◾preparing and lodging BAS documents accurately and on time
◾their extended BAS lodgement schedule gives you extra time to lodge the BAS and make payments
◾maximising your benefits within the law
◾handling day-to-day bookkeeping tasks
◾correctly setting up GST codes and tax invoices in accounting software
◾talking to the ATO about BAS provisions for you
◾their professional indemnity insurance offers some financial protection if they make a mistake
◾if you're late with BAS reporting and payments already, hiring an agent shows the ATO you're serious about catching up.

My friend finally hired a BAS-certified bookkeeper, who sorted out his books and helped him get back on track. The cost was minor compared to the prospect of more fines.

And the best part? It freed him from work he hated to spend more time with his business and family. Think about hiring an agent to do your BAS!

We at Business Tasmania would like to thank William for his contribution.

William Cowie is a blogger and content creation specialist for Inspire Education, a leading Australian provider of vocational education and training courses in bookkeeping, health and safety, training, childcare and many other fields.

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