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BAS Agent vs Bookkeeper vs Accountant. What is the difference?

Updated: May 30, 2020

What is the difference between a BAS Agent a Bookkeeper and an Accountant?

In a nutshell a BAS Agent is an expert in GST & PAYGW, an Accountant is an expert in Income Tax and PAYGI and a Bookkeeper keeps the records. But there are many other factors.

Bookkeeper vs BAS Agent vs Accountant working at computer


BAS Agents are often also Bookkeepers. The difference is that BAS Agents can represent clients to the Australian Taxation Office. This means they can lodge BAS (Business Activity Statements), IAS (Installment Activity Statements) and liaise with the ATO on behalf of the client regarding GST and PAYGW. 

BAS Agents are registered with the Tax Practitioners Board and have completed a level of study and experience in order to gain this registration. In order to keep this registration BAS Agents must regularly prove they hold insurance and complete ongoing study to ensure their skills and education are up to date. 


Bookkeepers can enter transactions, reconcile accounts, process accounts payable and receivable and do the basic recordkeeping of a business. There is no governance of a bookkeeper. 

Bookkeepers unless they are also BAS Agents are not registered with a governing body and do not need formal qualifications.

Bookkeepers cannot provide any BAS services unless they are employed directly by a business not as a subcontractor. 


Accountants are also known as Tax Agents. Accountants can provide all the services of a Bookkeeper and a BAS Agent but often at a much higher price. Accountants must have a university degree and have completed a level of experience in order to register with the Tax Practitioners Board. 

Accountants mainly provide income tax services such as lodging tax returns and providing advice on tax matters. 


The most cost effective way is to hire both a BAS Agent and an Accountant. The BAS Agent will process your books and report GST and payroll liabilities for you during the financial year. They will then have the required information prepared for your Accountant to process your tax return at the end of the financial year taking the pressure off you and saving you money in Accountancy fees.

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