?Legislation for the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 has been drafted and is intended to
be enacted early in 2010. The new regulations will see that bookkeepers who are
currently preparing and lodging Business Activity Statements (BAS) for a fee are now
required to meet standard eligibility criteria and must be registered to perform those
The new laws will provide a standardised system for the bookkeeping industry and
calls on practitioners to achieve and maintain the highest levels of qualification and
experience. There is the opinion that of course these qualifications and experience
exist already within the industry but the formalisation of the requirements is not only
of benefit to the bookkeepers themselves but to consumers as well. The industry
benefits from knowing that its members are operating to the highest of standards and
consumers are able to feel confident that their bookkeeper possesses a relevant and
up-to-date skill set and has the support of his or her industry as they have proven
themselves by meeting the registration criteria.
Specifically, the new legislation will only directly impact on bookkeepers who are
involved with preparing and lodging BAS. Those who are involved in data inputting
to compile a report for the purpose of completing and submitting a BAS can continue
to do so under the new laws without being registered but their duties are limited to
that task only. However, where large businesses are concerned it is not always
necessary for each individual to meet the criteria and be registered independently.
Provided that the business is seen to have a satisfactory number of registered
individuals and the BAS preparation process is being supervised by those registered
bookkeepers or BAS/tax agents then this considered acceptable practice. As part of
the introduction of the legislation a Tax Practitioners Board will be established and
they will be able to provide more clarity on this and other matters.
The laws will also see the introduction of a Code of Professional Conduct which again
formalises the expected actions of bookkeeping professionals that those engaging
bookkeeping services expect and deserve on all occasions. Areas addressed by the
code include: honesty and integrity, independence, confidentiality and competence.
In addition to standardising practices, the Act will introduce strict civil sanctions
resulting in substantial fines for any bookkeepers who continue to prepare and lodge
BAS without the required registration.
For consumers who employ the services of a bookkeeper the pending changes are of
benefit in that it will now be easier to locate and identify accredited professionals and
if there are any doubts as to the status of existing providers it will be easy to hold
them accountable and move to a new bookkeeper if they do not meet the minimum
requirements. Of additional benefit is the ‘safe harbour' provisions of the new Act.
Under the proposed new legislation, taxpayers are protected from having to pay
administrative penalties for late lodgment or making a false or misleading declaration
on the condition that they engaged a registered BAS agent and provided them with all
the relevant information to enable the preparation of the document.
Consumers can choose registered BAS agents knowing that they meet the following
eligibility for registration criteria:
? Applicants must be considered a ‘fit and proper person' - generally this is
determined by considering if, in the past 5 years, the individual has convictions for a
serious tax offence, fraud or dishonesty, has become an undischarged bankrupt or has
served a term of imprisonment. Any of these will result in the rejection of a
registration application or the discontinuation of an existing registration.
? Qualifications and Experience - individuals must have at least a Certificate IV in
Financial Services (Accounting) or (Bookkeeping) from an accredited institution
where the course required successful completion of basic GST and BAS taxation
principles and must have undertaken at least 1400 hours of relevant experience in the
past 3 years.
Registration is valid for a period of 3 years and re-registration or renewal requires the
same qualification and experience checks as for initial registration.
As practicing accountants and tax agents the bookkeepers at Quinn Consultants will
all be compliant under the proposed legislation. For expert bookkeeping, tax and
accounting advice contact us on 1300 QUINNS or click here to submit an online
The Quinn Group is an integrated, accounting, legal, and financial planning practice
offering expert advice to help you achieve your business and personal goals. With
more than 15 years' professional experience, we are committed to building
long-lasting relationships with our clients by providing superior service in a timely
and cost-effective manner. For more free advice please visit Corporate Lawyers.