Will Cowie from Inspire Education talks about the benefits of engaging a Registered BAS Agent..
A friend of mine got fined by the Australian Tax Office. He ran a small computer store in the suburbs servicing his local community, but his story applies equally to any small business owner. To save money, he used to do keep his own books and prepare his own Business Activity Statements (BAS). Unfortunately, while he was great with computers, bookkeeping wasn’t one of his strengths. He made errors, underreported his tax obligations and ended up with a fine on top of his outstanding tax obligations. It took years to pay off and added an extra layer of financial stress on top of the normal trials of small business ownership.
After being hit with that fine, he hired a bookkeeper who was registered as a BAS agent. The agent took over nearly all the recording and reporting tasks for the business. It freed my friend up from hours work each week; work that he hated doing. That was time he could use to improve his business, bill more hours, or simply go home and enjoy his Friday evenings with his family. If you think hiring a bookkeeper and BAS agent is expensive, consider the alternatives. It just might be a great investment in your business and your peace of mind!
What is a BAS Agent?
A registered BAS agent is an individual, partnership business or company that can provide BAS-related services like BAS preparation and lodgement or advice about BAS laws. They must meet strict training, experience and professional standards set out by the Tax Practitioners Board. If a bookkeeper is providing BAS services for a fee or other reward, then they need to be registered as a BAS agent.
“BAS agents” were created as part of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 and were first introduced in 2010. Before that time, only Tax Agents were supposed to do BAS, but many bookkeepers started to offer the service anyway. The problem is they weren’t always qualified or experienced enough, leading to a lot of costly mistakes! Clients like you got burnt, the bookkeeper was likely sued and everyone lost out.
What Does BAS Agent Registration Represent?
Today, bookkeepers doing BAS must be suitably qualified and registered as a BAS Agent. They need to have:
- A recognised and approved qualification like the Certificate IV in Bookkeeping (or an equivalent or higher level bookkeeping/accounting course).
- Completed at least 1,400 hours of relevant work experience in the last 3 years.
- Completed approved courses in GST and BAS principles.
- Passed a “fit and proper person” test.
- Professional indemnity insurance that offers you, the client, financial protection.
BAS agents must also abide by a strict code of professional conduct and can lose their registration if they don’t. They also need to keep up with ongoing education and professional development, ensuring they keep their skills up to date. Ultimately, this means you can hire a BAS agent and be confident in their skill and ability to prepare your BAS correctly.
What are the Benefits of Hiring a BAS Agent?
BAS agents are trained, practiced professionals. As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. Your agent will almost certainly be able to prepare your statements faster than you could, and more accurately too. Their job is to know the laws relating to GST, PAYG and other taxes reported in BAS so they can get the maximum benefits for you too.
If you haven’t been keeping up to date with your reporting or tax payments (and sometimes businesses do fall behind) hiring a BAS agent is an excellent move. They can help sort out your finances and it sends a strong message to the Australian Tax Office that you’re taking the problem seriously and will do better in future. It can be a big help if you’re negotiating with the ATO and paying off fines and outstanding debts.
Another major benefit BAS agents offer is an extended lodgement period. Agents can have up to 28 extra days to prepare and lodge your BAS documents on your behalf. That means you have more time to collect your information and find cash to pay a tax bill.
Finally, BAS agents almost always start out as bookkeepers and most continue to offer bookkeeping services too. They can help you set up quality financial recording and reporting systems in your business; or refine and make your current systems more efficient.
Why Not Hire a BAS Agent Today?
Rather than wait until it’s too late, hire a BAS-certified bookkeeper today. Once you’ve got bookkeeping systems in place, recording transactions and tracking GST will be much easier. Good data can actually help you keep more money in your pocket! You’ll know exactly what you owe and your BAS agent can use that data to maximise your BAS. You’ll be able to sleep easy at night knowing your BAS are taken care of, plus you’ll have more free time in your year to spend how you choose.
William Cowie is a content production specialist for Inspire Education, one of Australia’s leading vocational education organisations. Inspire provides Bookkeeping, BAS, Health and Safety, and Training and Assessment courses.
Dr Greg Chapman is a business advisor and the award winning author of the small business best seller “The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success”. Here he talks about monitoring KPI’s for your business..
As a business grows, the more moving parts it has and the more difficult it is to keep an eye on everything that is happening within it. Then the balls start to drop. Does your business have as many moving parts as a Jumbo Jet? How do 747 pilots manage?
When a business starts-up, because of the risk of failure, the owner has to watch everything. Fortunately, when you start-up, there is not a lot to watch! But it’s hard to get out of the habit, which is why so many business owners continue to micromanage the business as it gets larger. Now if you could keep your eye on every ball in the air that might be ok. But at some point it becomes impossible to maintain, with owners focussing on where they feel most comfortable, rather than on what is most important.
Studies have shown that there are limits to how many different things a human being can monitor and react to. This of course, varies from person to person, but everyone has their limit. For example, only the most skilled jugglers can keep more than six balls in the air. The world record is 12. So when we try to keep our eye on everything, we will start dropping balls.
So how does a Jumbo Jet pilot keep an eye on everything? Funnily enough, they have six gauges in the cockpit, representing the key areas of the plane’s performance. Or in business speak, the plane’s Key Performance Indicators. These are the most vital to keeping the plane in the air. So if the guy in seat 57D can’t get it to fully recline, you don’t see the pilot rushing down the aisle with a screw driver in his hand. The pilot probably doesn’t even know about it. They have the flight attendants and the maintenance engineers to worry about such problems. However, these personnel are highly trained to notify the pilots if there is something they should worry about. The pilot trusts these personnel to do their job and follow their procedures, and only let him or her know about things that affect the plane’s safety. So the pilots can concentrate on flying the plane.
But what if there is an engine problem. The plane’s flight management system is set up so that any problem with a key part in the flight system will be evident on the high level gauges. So if there is a drop in airspeed, the pilot will query the system to determine which of the many causes may be responsible. They are able to drill down from the high level gauge which has moved from the safe area to investigate which of the plane’s subsystems may be a fault. In almost all cases, the pilot is able to identify and either correct the problem or take action that will enable the plane to land safety. If they worried about every little non-critical problem on the plane, the chances are they might only notice the big ones when it is too late to do anything about them.
In business, the owner might identify that their cash reserves are declining. (Cash at Hand is one of the biggest Key Performance Indicators for any business.) Having seen this, the owner might ask the accountant to look at their detailed reports to identify the cause. Is it due to slow sales, overdue payments by debtors, cost blow-outs or overinvestment in inventory?
Having identified cost blowouts as the cause, the accountant might ask the operations manager why costs have gone up. She might advise that a maintenance problem has caused the over-run. When the operations manager speaks to the maintenance superintendent, she may discover the problem was caused by poor quality feedstock. In other words, a cash problem was caused by supplier quality control problem. The owner has therefore uncovered a critical supplier problem by interrogating staff after a key performance indicator has moved from the safe zone.
By having a small number of Key Performance Indicators which define the health of a business, and which are linked to other more detailed reports, the owner can fly their business relying on just few gauges which will alert them if there is a deeper problem in the business. Because an owner with an excellent Business Management System is confident that they will identify problems in a timely fashion, they can focus on flying their business safely towards their ultimate destination which is their real job.
Download a copy of Dr Greg Chapmans Free Mission Statements Made Easy Tool from www.empowersolutions.com.au
After a couple of years delay, myob are nearly ready to go live with their full cloud product. MYOB have taken a different cloud strategy to it’s competitors which you need to comprehend when comparing the different cloud options. Below is a summary of the price and feature differentials for the main cloud based accounting software products.
Quickbooks Hosted, Xero and Saasu are a fully cloud based product. This means that your data file is stored securely and fully encrypted on the cloud and you can only work on the file while you have the internet connected. MYOB AccountRight Live enables you to have the data file stored both online and locally at the same time. If the internet goes down or if you want to work on the file on a plane for example, you just work on the local file and the cloud version will be updated when you next go online. Here’s the basic monthly fees including GST for each of the cloud based bookkeeping software :
|Bookkeeping Software||MYOB AccountRight Live||QuickBooks Hosted||XERO||SAASU|
|Basic monthly Package (No Payroll)||$23||$25.83||$29||$20|
|Medium monthly Package||$59.50||$36.25||$49||$35|
|Advanced monthly Package||$59.50||$36.25||$64||$60|
|Detailed job costing options||Y||Y||Y||N|
|Pay suppliers and payroll directly from software||Y||N||N||N|
As you can the features offered by each product vary across the range. I think Xero has the edge in terms of functionality and ease to work with- it is just not as powerful as some of the other providers. One big advantage with MYOB AccountRight Live is the ability to pay your suppliers and staff directly through the software. This is a great advantage if you choose to outsource your bookkeeping because it means your bookkeeper can set up all of your payments without having to access your online banking system. You just have to login and complete a simple one step authorisation process to approve the payments. Price is just one factor to consider when deciding which bookkeeping software to go with. Each has it’s own functionality and user interface which you can sample by signing up to a free trial or just give us a call to discuss.
If you are either creating a new MYOB file or transferring over from another bookkeeping package, MYOB will take you through the steps required via it’s New Company File Assistant. If the setup is performed incorrectly it may require a lot of time to fix or you may even have to start again. Here’s some tips to make sure your setup is performed correctly:
- Financial Year- Make sure you use the Financial Year when your business started- this may not be the current Financial Year.
- Conversion Month- you won’t be able to enter any data prior to the conversion month you select.
- Financial Year End- some countries use a different Financial Year end to 30 June so make sure you have selected the correct period.
- Chart of Accounts- don’t just go with a default Chart of Accounts if you have an existing company- it may be difficult to match to a change of Account Structure
Please watch the following presentation for more detail or contact us at Bookkeeping Services.
The ATO has been pretty generous with its Transitional Provisions during the implementation of the BAS Agents Legislation. The transitional period had come to a close so you need to make sure if you are performing a BAS related service, you acquire your BAS Agent Registration.
In this video I discuss the study and experience requirements to achieving your certification as a Qualified Bookkeeper.
Check this recent clip on our Youtube Channel about weighing up the options of whether you should register for GST on a cash or an accrual basis.
For more info on our Bookkeeping Services in Sydney,Melbourne or Brisbane- check our website.
Serina Tran from Nspir8 in Darwin is leading the way with cloud based bookkeeping solutions. If you need help setting up MYOB, Xero or Reckon on the cloud or Desktop give Serina a call at Nspir8.
I think you’ll find that most of us involved in the Bookkeeping Industry are well and truly aboard the cloud “train.” The cloud has many great benefits relating to scalability, access and security (although some also perceive this as a risk). One of the reasons that we have clients interested in taking their bookkeeping to the cloud is for the automation benefits derived from being able to setup an automatic bank feed from you bank and credit card accounts. There are definitely some time efficiencies to be achieved from this but just how much time depends on the size and type of business you are running and may not be a reason in itself for switching your bookkeeping on the cloud.
The main benefits of bank feed automation are to gained if you are a small business with a small number of suppliers and customers and you have regular monthly transactions. The automatic bank feed can be setup to remember how these transactions were previously handled and therefore create the bank entry with general ledger coding based on the previous transaction. This can definitely save your bookkeeper an hour or two a week on data entry time.
As the size of your business increases so too does the complexity of your transactions such as the following:
- Paying multiple supplier invoices and credit notes with one supplier
- Complex payroll to take account of leave and entitlements
- Customer deposits paying multiple invoices
The automated bank feed can still assist in matching these payments if they have already been entered however the automatic entry benefits may be reduced due to the manual input required.
Bank Feeds are a great feature of cloud based software and are available with MYOB, XERO, QuickBooks and SAASU but may not be a reason in itself for choosing a particular software.
If you’re looking for bookkeeping services in the Adelaide Hills area, give Rod and Andrew a call at All Hills Bookkeeping Services . These guys really know their stuff and provide great support to the local community.
There’s been a couple of horrific examples of employee fraud over the past couple of years. I was blown away when I read details of the cases involving Clive Peeters Electrical and Hastie Engineering. I think they are worth considering further as the technique used by the employee involved was similar and both involved amounts over $20M!!
There is a weak link within the Australian Banking system which allows you to pay someone by eft without the correct “Account Name.” In these cases supplier or wage payments were setup with the correct payee name but the bsb and account details were actually those of the fraudulent staff member. Having 2 signatories will not pick this up unless the 2nd signatory independently checks the bank details of the payee.
We recommend never using EFT payments. There is no need to as there are so many other secure methods of payment available these days with built in security utilised by bookkeeping software such as MYOB, QuickBooks and Xero.
While unreconciled bank accounts or suspense accounts are a red flag to an accountant, at a recent CPA conference a Scotland Yard Fraud Investigator talked about some more subjective warning signs to watch out for if you suspect employee fraud. Be wary if you have a staff member who never wants to take holidays or sick leave. Taking a holiday may mean that someone else will have to do their job while they are away and come across what they have been up to. Another sign is that the staff member may show no interest in promotion or pay rises- they prefer to stay where they are. These are simplistic indicators and can obviously be quite innocent, but if there are other warning signs it may be worth digging a bit deeper.
Outsourcing your accounts and bookkeeping to a member of a CPA Australia will ensure that you are covered up to a limit by their compulsory Professional Indemnity Insurance.