Are you looking to be a specialist bookkeeper and become a BAS agent? While a bookkeeper maintains the financial records of a business, a BAS Agent advises on the Business Activity Statement (BAS) tax affairs of the business.
What is a BAS agent?
A BAS agent is a professional who is fully licensed and registered. Their job is to assist people with their Business Activity Statement (BAS) services. To become a BAS agent, you have to apply to the TPB (Tax Practitioners board) and pay a fee to register. Once approved, your registration will last for a minimum of three years.
BAS agents provide clients with information, work with clients as an adviser and can also represent clients to the ATO in regard to BAS provisions.
What is a BAS provision?
BAS agents assist and provide clients with information across a range of provisions. These include:
- GST law
- Superannuation Guarantee System
- Fuel tax law
- Wine equalisation tax law
- PAYG instalments
- PAYG withholding
- Luxury car tax law
- Fringe benefits tax instalments (only relating to recover and collection)
BAS agents are also able to help setup, design and implement businesses compliance systems. They can advise how a variety of relevant sectors of law affect you and review operations to establish compliance.
What are some examples of tasks BAS agents do?
BAS agents undertake numerous tasks in their role. Here are a few examples:
- Sorting out ABN numbers for clients by applying to the Registrar on their behalf
- Putting together and providing income statements
- Arranging bank reconciliations
- Sorting out activity statements on behalf of a client or assisting clients in which figures to use
- Authorising figures to be included on activity statements
- Handling superannuation payments made through a clearing house
- Resolving and reporting superannuation guarantee shortfall and related administrative payments
Bookkeeper vs BAS Agent
In Australia anyone can call themselves a bookkeeper. But to be a BAS agent you have to be registered and have specific qualifications and experience.
BAS agents are able to provide certainty and advise clients. They can also represent their clients to the ATO but only in relation to BAS provisions. This includes everything in the list above.
Both BAS agents and bookkeepers can process transactions according to the ‘compliance system’ that applies to the company. But only BAS agents can design the compliance system for a client around GST, any other indirect taxes on the BAS and payroll affairs. BAS agents can also be hired to review the reports of a company and provide certainty to that organisation about their entitlements and obligations.
Bookkeepers and BAS agents have the ability to apply a system. But design, advise and review that system then you will need to be a BAS agent.
Qualifications and experience for BAS agents
If you want to provide BAS services for a fee or other reward, you must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).
The Tax Agent Services Regulations 2009 (TASR) includes the requirements for becoming a registered BAS agent[i].
Basically, you need a primary qualification + board approved courses + relevant experience. That means a Certificate IV (or higher) in bookkeeping or accounting. You also need to do a board approved course in GST/BAS taxation principles. Monarch’s FNS40217 Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping covers both qualification and board approved course requirements.
If you are a member of a recognised professional association, you’ll need 1,000 hours of relevant work experience, done within the last four years. If you’re not a member of an association, you’ll need 1,400 hours.
Here’s a summary:
Source: tpb.gov.au. Accessed January 2018.
What are board approved courses?
Board approved courses are nationally recognised units that have been approved by the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) for registration purposes. Generally, they’re included in your main qualification. These units are included in Certificate IV qualifications and in the BAS and Payroll courses offered by Monarch Institute. Specifically, Monarch Institute offers two approved units – MAS001 (Activity statements) and MPA001 (Payroll administration). These units are included in:
- Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping
- BAS and Payroll
What is ‘relevant experience’?
‘Relevant experience’ generally means hands-on experience providing one or more BAS agent services. This means things like preparing the books and records for a business for the purpose of their BAS obligations, under the supervision of a registered BAS agent.
Your work experience needs to be verified by your supervisor/s using a Statement of relevant experience (SRE) form.
What are the other requirements for registration?
Once you’ve got the right qualifications and experience, you can apply for registration as long as you:
- Are at least 18 years old.
- Are a ‘fit and proper person’. This means:
- You have a good reputation in the community.
- You haven’t been convicted of serious offences including tax offences, or other offences involving some sort of fraud or dishonesty.
- You’ve never been in prison.
- You aren’t an undischarged bankrupt.
- Get (and maintain) professional indemnity insurance.
- Minimum level of insurance depends on turnover of the BAS agent services business, but can be between $250,000 and $1 million worth of insurance.
- Depending on your circumstances, premiums may start at about $40 a month.
Getting registered as a BAS Agent
You can apply online for registration.
The application fee is $50 for employees, or $100 for independent contractors/sole practitioners.
Before you start, you’ll need to make sure you have:
- Electronic copies of your qualifications, transcripts, and course outlines for the studies you’ve done.
- Your Statement/s of relevant experience from employer/s. NB: If you’re no longer with an employer, they’re still generally obliged to fill in your SRE form.
- Details of your BAS agent or tax agent association membership (if held).
Applications are generally processed within 30 days.
The information provided here is a guide. It was current at the time of publication by Monarch Institute, but may be subject to change by the TPB. Please check with the TPB to ensure you have the latest information and for any special requirements which may be specific to your individual circumstances.
For more information, check out the Tax Practitioners Board website or feel free to call one of our friendly course consultants to find out which accounting or bookkeeping course is right for you.