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BAS Agent: What They Do, and Why You Need One

Navigating your tax responsibilities can be daunting for GST registered businesses. That’s where a BAS agent comes in handy. These professionals are registered with the Tax Practitioners Board to assist with preparing and lodging Business Activity Statements. They also provide advice on GST and taxation matters and work to ensure your interactions with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) are smooth and timely. More than just crunching numbers, BAS agents are a source of comfort, helping you avoid penalties and fines.

 

Understanding BAS Agents: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

BAS agents are registered professionals (and coffee-drinking legends) who:

  • Prepare and lodge your Business Activity Statements

  • Advise you on your tax obligations

  • Represent you to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

  • Assist with the creation and maintenance of your tax compliance systems

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

However, our role isn’t merely about mitigating tax challenges. BAS agents are bound by a solid moral compass, adhering to statutory guidelines such as acting in the best interests of their clients, managing conflicts of interest, and upholding principles of honesty, integrity, and competence. And much like Bruce Wayne’s secret identity, they ensure the confidentiality of their clients’ information, only revealing it when they have permission or are legally obliged to do so. So, rest assured, your business secrets are safe with us.

 

The Importance of BAS Agents for Businesses

Why, as a business owner, should you pay attention to these tax experts? Well, BAS agents are the ones ensuring your Business Activity Statements (BAS) are not only accurate but also submitted to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on time. Think of them as your personal liaison with the ATO, handling all communications and taking some heavy burdens off your shoulders.

Also, we’re the ones standing between you and costly mistakes, penalties, and fines that might arise from inaccurate or late BAS lodgments and withholding tax obligations. Essentially, we’re your shield against the onslaught of potential tax troubles. Yep, we’re the kinda superhero you want on your side!

 

 

Key BAS Agent Services

Ok, so what exactly do us BAS agents do on the daily? Let me tell you, we don’t just spend our days dunking Scotch Fingers into Vanilla Lattes – well, to be truthful, that happens daily, but….we multitask. Our role also isn’t limited to providing BAS services – we also play with these fun subjects for our business clients every day:

  • GST (preparing and lodging Business Activity Statements and other BAS services)

  • Fuel tax credits

  • Wine equalisation tax

  • PAYG withholding tax (PAYGW)

  • PAYG instalments (PAGYI)

  • Lodging Single Touch Payroll reports on STP enabled software

  • Interpreting tax laws

  • Strategic financial advice

  • Representation in dealings with the Commissioner of Taxation on BAS provisions

  • Assistance with government initiatives, such as JobKeeper Payments Scheme and Cashflow Boost entitlements

  • Advice on entitlements under government schemes

  • Skilled bookkeeping (coding transactions, preparing bank reconciliations, tax invoices, and other tax related matters)

  • Preparation of management reporting

  • Payroll services, including management of employee wages, salary packaging, tax file number declaration, and ensuring compliance with employment standards

  • Calculating reportable employer superannuation contributions and superannuation guarantee shortfall
  • Management of payroll compliance reviews

  • Handling of superannuation payments through clearing houses

  • Completion of complex reports like the Taxable Payments Annual Report

  • Facilitation of tax savings by preventing overpayment or underpayment of obligations

  • Assistance in GST audit processes

  • Serve as the ultimate business wingman (or wingwoman) for our clients, providing steadfast support and savvy advice to navigate the tax scene with finesse and a touch of humour

 

Limitations of BAS Agents

Now, let’s discuss the limitations of these tax professionals. BAS agents have certain limitations when it comes to handling tax matters. For example, they’re expressly prohibited from:

  • Preparing and lodging income tax returns

  • Handling fringe benefits tax (FBT) affairs

  • Varying PAYG or FBT instalments

  • Engaging in discussions with the ATO regarding tax agent services for clients, including negotiating payment arrangements or requesting penalty remissions.

Additionally, BAS agents are restricted from providing certain services. They cannot interpret or apply laws that are not related to BAS or advise on state or territory taxes and duties. Additionally, they must carry professional indemnity insurance that meets the standards set by the Tax Practitioners Board.

 

 

 

Qualifications and Requirements of a Registered BAS Agent

Education and Experience

The journey to becoming a BAS agent (like Save My Books) begins with a solid foundation in financial services typically through obtaining a minimum Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or Accounting. However, you’ll often find BAS agents with higher qualifications and experience (such as Stacey, the Save My Books founder and BAS agent, who was an accountant in her (much) younger years.

BAS Agents also complete a Tax Practitioners Board (TPB)- approved GST/BAS taxation principles course to further refine these skills and sharpen their financial acumen.

However, the journey to expertise doesn’t end with certification. BAS agents are required to demonstrate a wealth of practical experience – which means accruing 1,400 hours of relevant experience for those with accounting qualifications, or 1,000 hours with professional membership over the last four years. This time served needs to be under the mentorship of a registered BAS agent.

Yep, it’s quite a thorough process, and for good reason. These stringent regulations give you (the business owner) peace of mind that when you hire a BAS agent, you’re hiring fit and proper person who’s done the time and knows the taxation ropes. Let’s face it, if you’re paying someone to lodge your BAS, you want it to be correct.

 

 

Comparing BAS Agents, Tax Agents, and Accountants

Having discussed the path to becoming a BAS agent, let’s examine the broader context. How do BAS agents compare with tax agents and accountants? It’s a bit like comparing Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Each has their strengths, and all serve a critical role in the world of finance.

BAS agents, tax agents, and accountants all work in the realm of finance, but each has their area of expertise. Tax agents typically require a higher level of education and qualifications than BAS agents, while accountants may have a range of qualifications including, but not limited to, those recognised for tax or BAS agents.

 

BAS Agents vs. Tax Agents

Let’s have a quick look at how BAS agents stack up against tax agents, shall we? BAS agents are the go-to pros for advice and handling all the nitty-gritty of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other indirect taxes. On the flip side, tax agents deal with a wider array of tax affairs.

Sure, BAS agents are legends (if we do say so ourselves), but we’ve got limits. Ultimaltely, we’re here to provide BAS services; we’re not the ones you call for help with income tax returns or tax advice outside our wheelhouse. And don’t even think about asking us for superannuation or financial planning tips that’s out of bounds. Meanwhile, tax agents have the training and know-how to tackle a spectrum of tax issues, including those tricky income tax returns, thanks to their deep dive into tax law.

 

BAS Agents vs. Accountants

Now, let’s compare BAS agents and accountants. While BAS agents specialize in GST, PAYG withholding, and other indirect taxes, accountants have broader professional training, encompassing areas like tax, audit, and financial reporting.

Accountants are not restricted to indirect tax matters. They can provide a wider scope of services, such as legal advice on contracts, dispute resolution, financial advice, business audits, and assurance services. They also play a vital role in a business’s strategic growth, which includes tasks beyond tax compliance like strategic planning, financial management, tax planning, and risk management.

As trusted business advisors, accountants provide valuable guidance on business structures, strategic decisions, and pathways to long-term financial success.

 

 

Hiring a BAS Agent: Costs and Considerations

When it comes to BAS agent costs, there are a few options out there: hourly rates, per-project deals, or fixed-fee packages. Here at Save My Books, Stacey, our resident BAS Agent, oversees all work that comes in and out of our practice. Her fees are already included in our fixed-fee bookkeeping packages, which all include BAS services. It’s straightforward, all-inclusive, and just makes sense.

 

Factors to Consider When Hiring a BAS Agent

Choosing a BAS agent isn’t just about the price tag. You’ll want to check out their experience, qualifications, and if they vibe with your business style.

Bringing on a BAS agent who knows their stuff can free up your time and cut costs by handing off those key BAS tasks. So, no matter if your business is a small, specialised outfit or a big player with lots of moving parts, there’s a BAS agent out there who’ll fit just right.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a BAS agent actually do?

Beyond wrestling with your Business Activity Statement, BAS agents can advise on GST matters, help with PAYG, manage your superannuation clearing house obligations, and much more. They’re the multi-tool in your financial toolkit.

What on earth does BAS stand for, and why should I care?

BAS stands for Business Activity Statement, a form you submit to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to report your business taxes. Why care? Well, unless you enjoy the ATO breathing down your neck for a friendly chat, getting your BAS right is pretty crucial.

Is engaging a BAS agency really worth it?

Absolutely! Well…unless you’re a fan of spending weekends buried in tax paperwork. A BAS agent can save you time, reduce stress, and potentially save you money by spotting deductions you might miss. They’re the financial sidekick you didn’t know you needed. Check out how our BAS Agent services could help save your sanity.

How do I know if my BAS agent is legit?

Look for the signal in the sky! Just kidding. Check they’re registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). A legit BAS agent will have a registration number, ensuring they meet the TPB’s stringent qualifications and ethical standards. Not sure what to look for? Keep an eye out for their BAS Agent registration number (ours is 25892333) or their badge (you can see ours here), or search for them on the Tax Practitioners Board register.

As a qualified and registered BAS Agent, Save My Books small business account keeping is proud to share our registration with the Tax Practitioners Board Australia.

 

Picture of Stacey, Registered BAS Agent and bookkeeper, who provides bookkeeping services to small businesses all over Australia

Stacey Fulton

Boss Lady / BAS Agent

Hey, I’m Stacey, I’m a fan of karate and big beefy muscle cars. But my major, stay-awake-till-3am obsession… is other awesome small biz owners. We ‘get’ each other. I mean, let’s face it. This gig; running a business… it’s empowering and exhilarating. But man, it’s also painful and lonely at times. A kind of pain that our non-small business friends don’t always ‘get’.

In a previous life, I was a corporate gal. Clad in my business suit and sporting a mouthful of technical jargon, I was set to climb the proverbial ladder of the accounting world. And I didn’t do too bad. Then I had kids. Lots of them. Turns out, the corporate world wasn’t a fan of big families and I wasn’t a fan of the corporate world. So I packed up my mundane little cubicle and fell face first Fat Amy style into the world of small business. Save My Books was born.

Don’t go it alone, it’s no fun. And business should be fun. Grab a few squares of chocolate *who am I kidding, grab the block*, and peruse some of the content I’ve put together for you. Or, if you’re time poor like me, save the reading, let’s chat for real over Zoom.

Until then.

Stacey

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March 22, 2024

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A Bit About Stacey
(our BAS Agent)

Stacey Fulton, numbers nerd and tradie bookkeeping specialist, sitting on white steps

Hi, I’m Stacey Fulton, Chief Bean-Counter and BAS Agent at Save My Books. Together with my small (but mighty) team, we help small businesses understand their finances, so they can build sustainable thriving businesses – minus the overwhelm.

Our main goal? To be real people, that have real conversations (minus the jargon), leading to real results. See, our team are all business owners ourselves, so we understand the pressure that small businesses can put on families because we experience it ourselves. Every. Single. Day.

We want more for you. We want you to spend your Sundays enjoying life, not catching up on bloody bookwork and financial tasks. We want to help.

Reach out now.

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