Bookkeeper versus BAS Agent, what’s the difference?

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Anyone who has the inclination to, can set up shop as a Bookkeeper. There are no specific experience requirements or qualifications needed to be a Bookkeeper. A Bookkeeper is someone who can process, reconcile and report transactions according to an established compliance system, and do pretty much anything else they want to as long as the services are not classed as a “BAS Agent Service” or a “Tax Agent Service”.


BAS Agent

Conversely, to become a BAS Agent and offer BAS Agent Services you must have a minimum of:

  • A Certificate IV Financial Services in Bookkeeping and Accounting from a registered training organisation,
  • A Board approved course in basic GST/BAS tax principles, and
  • At least 1,400 hours of relevant experience in the past 4 years.


Once these requirements have been fulfilled and the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has approved BAS Agent registration status, all BAS Agents must then maintain their registrations by:

  • Completing continuous education requirements,
  • Maintaining Professional Indemnity Insurance, and
  • Complying with the Code of Professional Conduct


In addition to being able to provide all the same services as a Bookkeeper, BAS Agents are also able to:

  • Design, monitor, review & advise on the compliance systems and processes used by clients – around GST, and other indirect taxes on the BAS, as well as any Payroll items
  • Review transactions and reports of a business and provide knowledgeable advise and technical certainty around GST, other indirect taxes and payroll matters
  • Advise clients regarding their BAS & Payroll obligations, including any and all liabilities and entitlements
  • Represent clients in their dealings with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) with regards to any BAS provisions and Payroll matters. For example, lodging BAS, Payment summaries, Tax file Number declarations and TPAR reports, organising payment plans, services relating to superannuation guarantee and applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN).


For more details examples of BAS services visit BAS Services section of the TPB website.

So before deciding who to hire for your business, seriously consider what services you require and make sure you are getting the qualifications you need. Bookkeepers are great if that is all you need however if they are providing BAS Agent services for a fee, they are breaking the law, and could be putting your business at risk. If you are not sure and want to find out more about what you need, contact us and we will take you through our initial scoping questions to see what is appropriate for your business.

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