Members of the small business community have welcomed a decision by Australia’s Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) to expand the range of services that Business Activity Statement (BAS) agents can provide.
This updated builds on the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, which established guidelines and services for BAS agents across Australia.
BAS agents are independent tax practitioners who advise individuals and businesses on BAS services, which include indirect tax laws, fringe benefits and systems such as Pay-As-You-Go.
Indirect laws covered under BAS services include goods and services tax law, wine tax law, and luxury car tax law.
Under the newly registered guidelines, BAS agents can now provide a greater range of services to clients.
These include the ability to complete and lodge the taxable payments annual report to the ATO on behalf of a client and also apply for a client’s Australian Business Number.
The update also allows BAS agents to complete a number of superannuation related functions on behalf of their clients.
Agents can now provide superannuation services that relate to payroll functions or contractor payments, deal with superannuation payments made through a clearing house, and determine and report the superannuation guarantee shortfall amount and any associated administrative fees.
BAS agents can also now send a tax file number declaration to the Tax Commissioner on behalf of a client.
In a statement, TPB chair Ian Taylor said the board knows “there are services that are commonly provided by BAS agents that do not necessarily fall within the definition of a BAS service”.
“This legislative instrument now allows these to be included in the services that BAS agents can provide, without the requirement to be a registered tax agent.”
David McKellar, director of Allied Business Accountants, told SmartCompany these changes “rounded out” the services BAS agents can provide.
“This means BAS agents are legally able to provide superannuation advice, which bookkeepers usually dealt with in the past,” McKellar says.
“This should be beneficial for smaller businesses as their BAS agents can do a complete payroll now, and deal with employee Tax File Numbers too.”
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia also welcomed the changes, telling SmartCompany it should “take out some complexity” for business owners.
“For anyone who can access BAS agents it’ll be a good thing, anything that makes it easier for businesses to get things done,” Strong says.
Strong believes BAS agents who can provide a fuller range of services will ensure all tax essentials get covered.
“If you’re going to pay someone to do your payroll then you want them to be able to do the lot,” Strong says.
“Employers can forget to ask for Tax File Numbers or employees can be lazy with getting them, so if there’s an agent involved, they can make sure it all turns up.”
“I’m surprised they haven’t been given these abilities earlier.”