BAS Agents - What is one and why do I need one?

Most business owners will be familiar with the term 'bookkeeper' and know that a bookkeeper keeps the accounting records up to date on a regular basis. But how many business owners know the difference between a bookkeeper and a BAS Agent? Or the difference between a BAS Agent and a Tax Agent?

A bookkeeper can process, reconcile and report transactions but they may not perform a 'BAS Agent Service'. They may ask but not answer questions, whereas a BAS Agent can advise and represent the client with the ATO in relation to BAS Services.

So what is a BAS Service? This covers GST and determining the correct GST collected or paid by the business, Taxable Payments Annual Reporting (TPAR), super guarantee, PAYGW reporting, and set up of compliance systems (such as software) to correctly report on the aforementioned areas.

What does being a BAS Agent really mean? BAS Agents have to register with the Tax Practitioners Board, and there is a certain criteria that must be met to apply:

  • The BAS Agent must be a fit an proper person

  • Have a minimum educational qualification of a CertIV in Bookkeeping/Accounting

  • Continue to have sufficient, ongoing and relevant experience

  • Have an appropriate level of Professional Indemnity Insurance

  • Undertake a set amount of Continuing Professional Education each year

  • Act in accordance with the code of conduct set by the Tax Practitioners Board

You can search the Tax Practitioners Board Register to check if your adviser is registered at

What then is the difference between a BAS Agent and a Tax Agent? A Tax Agent can advise and determine everything a BAS Agent can, but in addition they can advise in regards to Income Tax and Fringe Benefits Tax and prepare tax return, amongst other things. They require a higher level of educational qualification and training and additional Continuing Professional Education each year, but they come at a higher price. Because of the higher price tag, a business will often engage a BAS Agent to keep their bookkeeping up to date and prepare and lodge the BAS, but use a Tax Agent only a couple of times a year to provide tax planning advice and to prepare and lodge the tax returns.

So anyone can say they are a bookkeeper, but when you hire a BAS Agent you know you are hiring someone who has been officially approved.

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