The Australian Government’s new tax agent & bookkeeping regulations that came into effect earlier this year have significantly changed the industry. What is of real interest to most people however, are the flow-on effects for small businesses.
First of all there’s the good news. As a small business you stand to receive a higher quality level of bookkeeping as a result of the new regulations. The new regulations are part of a move by the government to prevent sub-par Business Activity Statement advice from being dispensed.
The new regulations dictate that tax agents and BAS agents must register with the new Tax Practitioners Board, which will replace the six individual state boards. Membership fees will now apply to all those who register.
Additionally, tax agents will now require tertiary qualifications, a diploma, admission to legal practice or work experience including eight years of full-time work within the industry during the previous decade.
BAS agents will require an accounting qualification, such as a certificate, and work experience within the previous two years.
Now the bad news. Because bookkeepers will now require this standard level of qualification, the cost of bookkeeping services is expected to rise across the board. Many unqualified bookkeepers will drop out of the market and others will have to re-train. It is thought that this will inevitably force prices up marginally.
There are concerns that the higher bookkeeping costs may encourage small business owners to do their bookkeeping themselves, however this is usually a mistake.
By engaging a professional, businesses are guaranteed higher quality service and so stand to gain money in the long term. This is particularly true when you consider that done the right way, engaging a bookkeeper need not be particularly expensive. The average hourly rate for bookkeepers is $38.17 according to ServiceSeeking.com.au, with the lowest quoted prices just $22 per hour.
Ultimately, most industry professionals believe that the new regulations are for the best and will result in a more streamlined industry that will provide businesses with more peace of mind when they look to engage a bookkeeper.