The BAS Agent legislation is contained within the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (“TASA”) and two related pieces of legislation often referred to as the “Regulations” and the “Transitional Rules”.
The legislation has seen the introduction of a national Tax Practitioners Board who, among other things, oversee and regulate the supply of BAS Services to the public. The Board maintain a public register of Registered BAS Agents at www.tpb.gov.au.
If you are a bookkeeper, then unless you have been registered by the Board as either a BAS Agent or Tax Agent, you cannot render BAS Services to your clients. The legislation imposes a range of civil penalties ranging from $5,500 to $137,500 (per offence) for illegally providing, representing that you provide, or advertising that you provide, BAS services.
BAS services capture the majority of services provided by most bookkeepers. For further information on the types of bookkeeper services that are held to be BAS Services, please click the TPB BAS Services Defined button.
BAS Agents are subject to a Code of Professional Conduct which imposes a range of obligations, one of which is the compulsion to hold Professional Indemnity (P.I.) insurance to a specified level. For further information, visit our P.I. Insurance page.
BAS Agents are also subject to a range of administrative sanctions and civil penalties. Clients of BAS Agents benefit from so-called safe harbour provisions which provide relief from penalties in the case of error or late lodgement by the BAS Agent.
BAS Agent Registration Requirements
In order to become registered as a BAS Agent, Section 20-5 of the TASA requires a bookkeeper to satisfy the Board through a formal application process that they meet certain criteria. Firstly, the applicant must be a “fit and proper person”. Secondly, the applicant must satisfy an educational criterion, which at a minimum requires the attainment of a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or a Certificate IV in Accounting. Thirdly, the applicant must demonstrate some 1400 hours of “relevant experience” in the past three years.
The 1400 hours relevant experience is reduced to 1000 hours for members of a Recognised Tax Agent Association. Included among these are the Institute of Chartered Accountants and CPA Australia.
The new regime also contemplates the emergence of BAS Agent Associations who may assist the Board by providing Board-recognised courses for ongoing professional education and disciplinary purposes. Importantly, being a member of a BAS Agent Association will not in and of itself confer BAS Agent status on a person unless all other registration requirements are met (including 1000 hours of relevant experience).
In all cases, registration is granted for a period of three years.
Item 14 of the Transitional Rules provides bookkeepers with the ability to attain an initial BAS Agent registration by meeting fewer requirements than would ordinarily be the case.
The qualifications and experience requirements are replaced by a less rigorous test that requires the applicant to demonstrate that they have been providing BAS services to a competent standard for a reasonable period. Bookkeepers availing themselves of Item 14 of the Transitional Rules must do so prior to 1 March 2013.
The initial period of registration will be three years.
The following links are to the various legislative instruments making up the BAS Agent laws:
Tax Agent Services (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2009 (Passed 29 October 2009)