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CHANGES TO CONDITIONS FOR BOOKKEEPERS PROVIDING BAS SERVICES

PRT wanted to take this opportunity to alert our clients to the changes that are taking place with regard to bookkeepers and the preparation of your BAS.

From 1st March 2010, the new BAS Agent Law takes effect.  Only bookkeepers who have applied to the new Tax Practioners Board for registrations as a BAS Agent will be permitted to provide their clients with BAS services.

Current Position

A person can not charge a fee for preparing or assisting a client with any income and BAS matters unless they are a registered Tax Agent.

BAS related services include:

- Preparing and lodging an approved form for a client that relates to GST, PAYG withholding and PAYG instalments.
- Giving advice about these obligations, or
- Dealing with the Tax Office on behalf of a client in relation to these matters

However, there is an exemption with regard to the provision of BAS related services.

Under the exemption, bookkeepers may charge for the provision of BAS services if they are:

- A member of a recognised Professional Association
- Working under the direction of a registered Tax Agent, or
- A payroll services provider preparing a BAS only for PAYG withholding obligations

The ATO has a list of those Associations that they have recognised in relation to this exemption.  The associations are:

- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- Association of Taxation & Management Accountants
- CPA Australia
- Institute of Chartered Accountants
- National Institute of Accountants
- Taxation Institute of Accountants
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

Therefore, currently, if a bookkeeper is not a member of one of these organisations, or is not working directly under a registered Tax Agent, they can not charge a fee for the preparation of a BAS or assisting a client to prepare a BAS.

New Position From 1st March 2010

Bookkeepers must apply to the Tax Practitioners Board to be registered as a BAS Agent.  The current registration fee will be $100 for BAS agents and the registration period is three years.  If a bookkeeper is not registered and provides BAS related services or advice, they can be charged a penalty of between $5,500 to $137,500 per offence.

Under the new system, BAS Agents will be subject to a Code of Professional Conduct.  One of the requirements is that it is compulsory to have Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Registration as BAS Agent

To be a registered BAS Agent:

- The applicant must be over 18 years of  age
- The applicant must be a "Fit and proper person"

AND either meet the Accounting Qualifications

- The applicant must meet a minimum education requirements of either Certificate IV Financial Services (Accounting) or Certificate IV Financial Services (Bookkeeping)
- Has successfully completed a course in basic GST/BAS taxation principles as approved by the Tax Practitioners Board
- The applicant must demonstrate some 1400 hours of relevant experience in the past three years

OR

- Be a member of one of the Approved Professional Associations
- This requires the bookkeeper to have completed the same minimum education requirements as above
- The bookkeeper must be a voting member of the Association
- The bookkeeper must demonstrate at least 1000 hours of relevant experience in the past three years

BAS Services

The types of services that are now considered to be the provision of BAS services has increased.  BAS services now include the following:


- Installing computer accounting software and determining default GST codes tailored to the client
- Coding tax invoices and transferring data onto a computer program for clients
- Reconciling data entry to ascertain the figures to be included on a clients activity statement
- Filling in an activity statement on behalf of a client or instructing the client which figures to include
- Ascertaining the withholding obligations for the employees of clients.  This includes the preparation of payment summaries

Employees

Bookkeepers who are employees of a business are still exempt from the above changes.  They can still enter data and prepare BAS's as before.

You may wish to take this opportunity to discuss the changes to the law with your bookkeeper to ensure that they comply, or alternatively if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact PRT.