The first and very important step is to ask them “Are you registered as a BAS Agent?”

If you are one of the few who read the newsletters that come with their BAS statements, you may or may not recall the article for Q4 Activity Statement update 2009-2010 “Using registered agents”.

In this newsletter, the ATO introduced the new Tax Agent Services Act 2009 to the public.

If you are paying someone to complete your BAS, payroll or data enter along with their tax codes the bookkeeper needed to be registered from the 1st March 2010 and have Public Liability Insurance by the 1st July 2011. You can read more about this change at www.ato.gov.au/newregime

This information may lead you to ask the following questions?

*I do my own BAS, do I need to be registered? Short answer is NO!
*My employed accounts administration lady does my BAS, does she need to be registered?  NO

Okay, so who does need to be registered?

Any contracting business or individual who gets paid a fee to complete your BAS, payroll or even change tax codes needs to be registered.

Right, I understand that there are new laws, but that doesn’t tell me what I need to look for in a bookkeeper?

Here are some “tips” on how to find a good bookkeeper!

1. Has their name and/or business been registered on the Tax Practitioners Board?
Visit www.tpb.gov.au to check that they are.

2. Have they completed or are they in the process of completing their Certificate IV Bookkeeping/Accounting Diploma.

3. It’s a good sign when they suggest before they begin work (either in person or over the phone) the specific duties you wish them to perform in detail and the software you use.

4. Even better - They request a  email address so that they can send you a copy of their work agreement before they begin work which could possibly include the following:-
a. Duties to be performed
b. Paperwork to remain onsite at all times or state clearly the process that it can be taken offsite.
c. Security process – will the bookkeeper create a new user name and who will have access to the password or file?
d. Clearly define their hourly rate or package supplied
e. What process to follow if you are not happy with the bookkeeper’s work, or if you would like to add additional duties

5. This allows you to read through the document and discuss what areas you would like included or removed before they begin work, preventing misunderstandings.

6. Is the bookkeeper registered with any association? If not, how do they keep up to date with new tax rulings, legislation or other updates/training opportunities?

7. Do they have a pleasing disposition? When dealing with customers on the phone or when interacting with staff or your accountant, you need to be confident they will be a asset to your work environment!

Finding a good bookkeeper is vital for any business. Their accurate data entry and processing should ensure that your tax obligations are met. You can also expect to have a  “snapshot” in any given time of the health of your business with the reports they can print off the software programme.

If having a employed bookkeeper is not within your budget, then finding a bookkeeper to come onto your site on a semi part time basis can be a cost effective advantage.

Especially if they have the necessary skills and experience to do the one job many business owners dislike doing.....debt collection! This process alone will not only pay for their services to your business, but give a boost to your profit margins as well. Dramatically decreasing bad debts! But, I’m getting away from myself and that’s a totally another article!

Be smart – Contract a bookkeeper to work on your books, so that YOU can work on your business!

Amanda is the owner of My Office Books and provides a personalised mobile bookkeeping service.  She specialises in small to medium sized business and can be flexible to suit her client’s needs. From picking up a shoe box of dockets to working in your office. She brings with her twelve years of experience with Myob, but can also work with Quickbooks, Xero & CRM systems as required.
You can contact her on mobile 0423463721.

Twitter:  @myofficebooks
FB name:  Amanda Myofficebooks

Written by Amanda Hoffmann from My Office Books Queensland 2011 (c) myofficebooks@optusnet.com.au