Although I have been posting about bookkeepers in general, I wish to use this time to stress that there are 'bookkeepers' and then there are 'qualified bookkeepers'. So what's the difference?
Up until about a decade ago the financial services industry was largely unregulated. Bookkeeping itself required no qualification meaning anyone could do it, regardless of expertise. With the implementation of GST, ever-changing tax laws and only the law of increasing disorder to adhere to, the financial services industry descended into the Wild West - full of incompetent and shonky bookkeepers, accountants and financial advisors.
But in 2009 the government introduced legislation outlining certain standards and regulations that those in the financial services industry must abide by as well as sanctions to discipline and hold accountability to agents who did not adhere to this Code.
One such requirement put in place for bookkeepers is that any bookkeeper who is not working for you directly as an employee must be registered as a BAS or Tax Agent with the Tax Practitioners Board. Although this might seem like a technicality, it is very important when it comes to the reporting of your financial information. If you have a bookkeeper who is lodging your BAS’s and IAS’s on your behalf and they are not registered, then YOU are solely responsible for the information that is being supplied to the ATO. Using a Registered BAS Agent means that the Agent is responsible for your lodgements and assumes a level of responsibility to the accuracy of the information that is being presented.
To be a Registered BAS Agent, you must have a bookkeeping qualification and meet a certain level of experience as well as maintaining a minimum level of continuing professional education (CPE). You must also agree and adhere to the Code of Conduct which states that an agent be competent, honest, abide by all Tax Laws and act in the best interest of their client.
To read more about the Tax Practitioners Board and required Registrations, click here
To check if your bookkeeper is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board, click here
A bookkeeper can be registered as an individual or under their practice or business name. You can also search via their registration number if they have it listed on their website, business card, etc.
Do not be afraid to ask your bookkeeper about their qualifications. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
It's never to early to enlist the support of a bookkeeper, especially nowadays with the benefits of the cloud. But during the initial start up stage a lot of business owners decide to take on the bookkeeping responsibilities themselves or be assisted by a family member. This is usually a financially motivated decision made to save on initial costs and rightly so, it's important to ensure you have a stable business before adding additional expenses to the mix.
Considering that second scenario, let's assume you lay a great foundation and your business becomes successful. Soon you’re hiring staff, buying more, spending more, things are getting busier and busier. Congratulations! You are reaping the rewards of all your hard work. Although you love working in and on your business, you’re finding that you’re spending what small amount of down-time you do have catching up on paperwork: paying bills, paying staff, getting invoices out so you can get money in. Or perhaps that family member is finding it difficult to keep up with the demand while juggling their own schedule. What used to be easy and fun has now become burdensome... and the stress is creeping up. Doesn’t being the boss mean you’re in charge? Aren’t things supposed to be getting easier? There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the week to be able to get through it all and not only is the workload getting bigger, things seem to be increasing in complexity too. You just can’t seem to shake a niggling feeling that you could be unknowingly missing important financial deadlines, or making mistakes that could mean the ATO come knocking at your door…
This is where it is a good idea to contact a bookkeeper. You should be running your business, your business shouldn’t be running you! A bookkeeper can assist in as many or as few of the administrative tasks you require. Perhaps you like preparing your own invoices, but you find payroll scary, or you’re at the point that you want someone to look after the whole financial side of things. A bookkeeper is there to make running your business easier and can offer services in whatever capacity you require. Working on your business throughout the year means we understand it. We know when payments are upcoming or due, we can manage cash flow and schedule payments so you don’t have to worry about unforeseen tax bills, superannuation, insurance payments etc.
If you’re time-poor, the financial side of your business is becoming a headache or you're feeling a bit out of your area of expertise, do yourself a favour and enlist the help of a bookkeeper. It's one of the best business decisions you can make!