Do I Need a Bookkeeper or a BAS Agent?

The role of a Bookkeeper has changed dramatically since the introduction of Australia’s Goods and Services Tax (GST). It created a whole new set of business pressures for record-keeping; reporting demands exploded, along with penalties for non-compliance.

As a business owner, currently you have two choices.  You can:

  • directly employ an individual to undertake record keeping, but with the knowledge that you will be held accountable for errors and compliance in GST, BAS and Payroll.

Or alternatively,

  • engage a BAS Agent who will undertake and be responsible for all compliance in your GST, BAS and Payroll including the determination of GST codes.

This decision needs to be considered carefully.  Get it wrong and the costs will be enormous!

Many Clients come to us asking the question, “What is the difference between a BAS Agent and a Bookkeeper?”

So I’ll explain the main differences between these two roles – and why a BAS Agent may be the best choice for you.

Put simply, a bookkeeper is an employee with a particular set of skills, while a BAS Agent is a highly trained, independent contractor able to take on a comprehensive range of tasks that will ensure regulatory compliance.

For you my fellow business owner, to employee a Bookkeeper you will need to know all the rules and regulations!

You will need to know what services and goods are applicable to GST and what are not.

You will also need to know whether Superannuation is payable on all Employee earnings or on only some earnings.

And this means you’ll need to maintain and update your knowledge as and whenever the rules change to ensure your records, lodgements and submissions to the ATO, Superfunds and Workcover remain compliant.

For your interest sake today, let me enlighten you, Superannuation is not applicable to all Employee earnings!

As a business owner, if you choose to be accountable for errors in BAS, GST, Payroll and Super, then of course you’re able to employ a bookkeeper.  The bookkeeper will undertake basic data entry but is neither permitted by law, nor has the required registration, to determine GST codes, prepare BAS Returns or to undertake Payroll provisions.  That’s right, it’s YOU, the business owner who must know these rules and who must carry full responsibility for compliance in whatever the bookkeeper does!

So to clarify the facts when hiring a bookkeeper, they must …..

  • be directly employed by you, the business owner
  • receive Leave Entitlements (or the equivalent)
  • receive Superannuation contributions at the prescribed SGC rate
  • receive an Annual Individual PAYG Payment Summary
  • have their earnings included in the Annual Empdupe record provided to the ATO
  • have their earnings and superannuation contributions included in the Annual Workcover Certification of Remuneration
  • be included in Payroll Tax submissions to the relevant government office

And you must ……

  • take responsibility for determining GST Codes
  • know the rules and regulations relating to BAS, Payroll, Superannuation, Workcover and Payroll Tax
  • take responsibility for all compliance including errors made by your bookkeeper

In considering the above compliance matters that you will need to be aware of when employing a bookkeeper, be mindful that there is an alternative:


Engaging a BAS Agent ……

  • is a much simpler process
  • ensures you have no concerns with employee management
  • means they are responsible for the work they undertake
  • most importantly, relieves you of all issues relating to record-keeping compliance

Engaging a BAS Agent will provide you full access to a highly skilled professional who will ensure your business achieves compliance in GST and Payroll; inclusive of Superannuation, Workcover and Payroll Tax.


So will you engage ….. a BAS Agent?  or a Bookkeeper?…… the answer is up to you!