Changes to The Tax Agent Services Act 2009
From 1st March 2010, the Federal Government via the Taxation Practitioners Board and the Australian Taxation Office changed the legal requirements and qualifications needed to provide GST and BAS related services.

In fact, "a number of changes were brought about by the introduction of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, such as the:
               - newly established national Tax Practitioners Board
               - registration and regulation of tax agents and BAS agents
               - introduction of safe harbour provisions.

The aim of the Tax Agent Services Act provisions is to ensure the services registered agents (both tax agents and BAS agents) provide to the public are of an appropriate ethical and professional standard" 1

So what does that mean for you if you use a bookkeeper to prepare your accounts and lodge your BAS or GST related documents -

If your bookkeeper is not registered -
You may not be covered by the Safe Harbour Provisions of the Act and it may be illegal for them to continue to offer GST related services to you.

They are not required to keep up with education standards nor are they subject to a Professional Code of Conduct unless they are a member of CPA Australia or another professional accounting organisation.

It is recommended that you seek the services of a registered BAS or Tax agent.

If they are registered -
You may have additional safeguards for late or misleading statements made in a GST return under The Safe Harbour Provisions -

"Under the safe harbour provisions, taxpayers are not liable to administrative penalties for either failing to lodge on time, or making false or misleading statements under certain circumstances.
The safe harbour provisions can only apply to:
      - a false or misleading statement penalty where the statement is made on or
        after 1 March 2010
      - a failure to lodge on time penalty, where the document has a due date for
        lodgment of 1 March 2010 or later." 1

For more information on the safe harbour provisions go to http://ato.gov.au/taxprofessionals/content.asp?doc=/content/00232808.htm&page=1&H1

What You Should Do

1. Ask you bookkeeper if they are registered and if so what is their registration number.
2. Check on the following website to confirm they are registered - www.tpb.gov.au
3. Go to Australian Taxation Office Website www.ato.gov.au or the Taxation Practitioners Board website www.tpb.gov.au for more information.

1. Australian Taxation Office Website http://ato.gov.au/taxprofessionals/content.asp?doc=/content/00230818.htm&pc=001/005/041/015/001&mnu=43387&mfp=001/005&st=&cy=1 as at 28th December 2010
Bookkeeping Legislation
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