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New tax agent services regime

If you’re a small business in Australia that uses bookkeeping services you need to be aware of the new Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) which came into effect on 1 March 2010.

This is a significant change that will require most external bookkeepers to become registered. If you use a bookkeeper for BAS services and they don’t become registered there could be consequences for you. For instance you would not be covered by new legislation which provides safe harbour protection from penalties in the event your bookkeeper does not take reasonable care when lodging your return.

We suggest you find out if your bookkeeper is registered or if they are intending to do this. To help with the transition, those who have been providing BAS services up until 1 March have six months in which to register with the new national Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). Bookeepers can download the registration form from the TPB website.

Your bookkeeper will need to register as a BAS agent if they do any of the following for you: 

  • Installing computer accounting software and determining default GST and other codes tailored to the client.
  • Deciding on the GST coding of tax invoices and transferring data onto a computer program for clients.  (Simple data entry is not a BAS Agent Service).
  • Reconciling BAS provision data entry to get the figures to be included on a client’s activity statement. (This does not include normal bookkeeping duties nor reconciliation processes.)
  • Filling in the activity statement on behalf of an entity or instructing the entity which figures to include.
  • Assessing the withholding obligations for the employees’ of the business. This includes the preparation of payment summaries.

There are a number of organisations that can help external bookkeepers comply with the new legislation. One of these is the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB). At Xero we suggest external bookeepers contact the ICB to find out how they might be affected.


Read more about Bookkeepers, Accounting, Australia


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