We often get asked what the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant is, and truth be told, the differences between the two can be quite subtle. In some instances, responsibilities can even overlap, though it can get quite costly getting an accountant to do tasks a bookkeeper can manage. If you’re operating a small business, you’re likely looking for a cost-effective option to manage your finances. To help you make the right decision, we’ve compiled a quick guide on the difference between bookkeeper and accountant responsibilities, and which one is best for the size of your business.
Difference between bookkeeper and accountant
A bookkeeper is someone who works closely with a business or individual to record financial activities on a day to day basis. They ensure that records are kept up to date and easy to manage and that transactions are paid and organised. A bookkeeper is especially useful for small business owners who need help recording and tracking numbers. This can include everything from payroll services to helping with end of year reconciliation. In addition to helping record transactions, a bookkeeper can help prepare financial statements so an accountant can interpret and provide feedback.
Bookkeepers can be independent consultants or companies, or a full-time employee. Typically, a bookkeeper performs the following duties:
- Record transactions such as income and outgoings.
- Conducting daily banking activities.
- Reconciling reports to third-party records such as bank statements.
- Preparation of financial statements.
- Payroll Factors including withholding tax and any aspects of PAYG.
- Provide BAS services (if registered as a BAS agent) and Instalment Activity Statements (IAS).
- GST calculations
An accountant will analyse transactions and reports to interpret the financial situation of an individual or business. Accountants can help you manage cash flow and provide professional guidance on ways you can improve the financial health of your business. This may include looking at your profit and loss statements or preparing and filing tax returns on your behalf. For small business owners, an accountant may operate on an ad hoc basis to offer financial advice when needed. Generally, the bigger a business gets, the more likely it’ll need an accountant to ensure financial obligations are met.
An accountant can perform the following duties:
- Preparing accounts and tax returns.
- Auditing financial information.
- Compiling financial reports, business plans and financial statements.
- Analysing accounts and budgets.
- Providing tax planning services.
- Financial forecasting and risk analysis.
- Dealing with insolvency cases.
Should I use a bookkeeper or an accountant?
If possible, it’s worth enlisting the help of both a bookkeeper and accountant for your business. A bookkeeper can undertake the everyday tasks of recording transactions, chasing unpaid invoices and running payroll, while an accountant can help prepare financial statements and offer financial advice on how you can better manage your cash flow. A bookkeeper will charge less than an accountant, so it’s worth utilising the help of a bookkeeper for your everyday tasks. An accountant can then be brought in on an ad hoc basis, to take a look at the financial activities your bookkeeper has recorded.
Difference between Tax agent and BAS agent
You may have heard of tax agents and BAS agents, but what exactly does that all mean? BAS agents help with business activity statements and can be done by a bookkeeper who is registered as a BAS agent. Tax agents offer more complex financial services and are more concerned with tax law than a standard accountant. The biggest difference between tax agent and BAS agent is that a BAS agent cannot provide services relating to income tax, but they can prepare and lodge BAS statements for you.
We hope we’ve given you a clearer understanding of the difference between bookkeeper and accountant responsibilities. If you require bookkeeping services, please get in touch with Go Figured today on 07 3608 4206 or get in touch online for a callback. Let us take the hassle and stress out of your compliance reporting so you can focus on something more important.