Our Bookkeeping & Finance Blog

What is bookkeeping and what does a bookkeeper do?


What is bookkeeping?

While bookkeeping is now considered a subfield of accounting, historically, it preceded and informed the relatively new accounting field. Ancient records show that bookkeeping existed as early as 6,000 BC, and almost every ancient civilisation kept some form of financial and numerical accounts. Chartered accounting emerged in 19th Century Scotland nearly 8,000 years later.

Modern bookkeeping is the act of ‘keeping’ the ‘books’. It is the fundamental business activity that records all financial transactions and information related to the company on a day-to-day basis. Bookkeeping is the process of collating, interpreting, and maintaining financial records for a business. Although bookkeeping does not deal directly with taxes, auditing, or other accountant specific activities, the bookkeepers’ reports are the foundation for all accounting requirements. It’s an essential part of every business and helps it reach its business goals. Good bookkeepers enable the company accountant to do their job in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

What does a bookkeeper do?

A Bookkeeper records, collates and summarises financial information. This process accurately records the progress of the business so that business activity and financial reports can be produced. These reports reveal how the company is performing as well as generating accurate records for compliance requirements like; BAS, STP, Super, Payroll Tax, FBT etc

The duties and responsibilities of a bookkeeper start with tasks such as; customer invoicing, paying bills, recording bank transactions and payroll. This information is then used to generate cash flow, bank reconciliations, profit and loss, and balance sheets. Ultimately this information can be examined and assessed to produce key strategic information that can inform the direction of the business. Bookkeepers make it possible for business owners and accountants to objectively review the company, create relevant budgets, identify trends, and plan for the future growth and success of the business.

What is a BAS Agent?

The term BAS Agent came into effect in 2000 with the introduction of GST. It is a title protected by law and applies to an individual or entity who meet the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) requirements for registration as an agent as specified in the Tax Agent Services Act (TASA) 2009.

Only registered BAS Agents and registered Tax Agents can assist in determining a business’ obligations related to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on a Business Activity Statement (BAS) or Instalment Activity Statement (IAS), unless they are the business owner or an employee of the business.

BAS Agents collate and compile information needed for BAS and IAS preparation. This information covers:

  • Salaries and wages paid to employees
  • PAYGW tax from employees
  • GST collected and paid
  • Income Tax Instalment obligations

If you are not sure whether your bookkeeper is a registered BAS Agent, you can search the TPB Register here.

What is the difference between a bookkeeper and a BAS Agent?

While anyone can perform bookkeeping duties, a bookkeeper’s tasks are, quite simply, confined to maintaining the books and recording information. Hiring a bookkeeper who is also a registered BAS Agent will ensure a higher quality of work and provide some protection under the TPB (Tax Practitioners Board).

To perform their role lawfully, a registered BAS Agent must:

  • hold a minimum level of qualification, which is determined by the TPB (Tax Practitioners Board),
  • hold Professional Indemnity Insurance which meets minimum set standards,
  • commit to ongoing CPE (continuing professional education) to keep their registration valid and remain legally compliant,
  • adhere to the requirements of the TPB Code of Professional Conduct,
  • be a fit and proper person, and perform their role with honesty and integrity.

BAS Agents are also authorised to represent the business with the ATO, which can make a big difference if you are late with your lodgements or need to negotiate a payment plan for ATO liabilities. Making sure your bookkeeper is a registered BAS Agent ensures you have a qualified person to look after your critical business accounts; you also have the added protection of the TPB Code of Conduct and PI insurance.

Registered BAS agents are permitted to represent, advise, or assist their employer with matters such as:

  • BAS provisions,
  • Payroll matters, including superannuation,
  • FBT liabilities,
  • GST,
  • Fuel tax,
  • Luxury car taxes,
  • Payroll Tax,
  • Govt Assistance and Grants.

The importance of bookkeeping cannot be minimised. Making sure your bookkeeper is also a registered BAS Agent services should be a deal-breaker for every business. By securing a qualified bookkeeper who is also a registered BAS Agent, your business financials will be expertly structured and maintained to meet your legal requirements and obligations. Moreover, the business will be primed for growth and long-term success through solid and sound financial practices.

If you’d like to talk to an expert in the field of bookkeeping about how a qualified BAS Agent can make a difference to your business, call NumbleTM on 1300 852 575 or book a free consultation here.