How to become a BAS agent
Looking for a specialist career path in accounting and bookkeeping? There are lots of potential benefits to becoming a qualified BAS agent. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a stable and well-paid job with a bit of flexibility behind it.
BAS agent roles are spread all around Australia, and include part-time positions with flexible conditions. Plus there’s the option to start your own business providing BAS agent services (once you’ve got the requisite experience).
Not just anyone can set up shop and call themselves a BAS agent, though. BAS agents have to be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board. There are education, experience and other requirements to gain and maintain your registration. Becoming a BAS agent is a journey that starts with the right learning foundation.
BAS agent qualifications
There are lots of different qualifications that are acceptable to the TPB to satisfy the education requirement. However, the absolute minimum (in terms of time and level) is the Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping. You can read more about minimum education requirements on the TPB website.
The Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping is a nationally recognised qualification. It reflects the roles and responsibilities of many different types of workers in the accounting industry. This includes contract bookkeepers, BAS agents, finance clerks and more. The basic (core) units are designed to get you upskilled in basics you can use in a variety of roles, from using accounting software to preparing financial reports. Then, depending on the course provider you go with, you’ll also do five different elective units.
If you’re interested in a career as a BAS agent, it’s important to note that you’ll need to do certain units of study as part of your educational requirement. If you’re going with a Certificate IV as your basic qualification, you’ll want to make sure your course provider offers these units, and that they’re a TPB-approved education provider.
Monarch Institute offers a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping with the requisite BAS agent units. These are FNSTPB402 Establish and maintain payroll systems (MPA001) and FNSTPB401 Complete business activity and instalment activity statements (MAS001). In these units you’ll learn all about what goes into a BAS and why. You’ll get to practice preparing statements for different types of organisations, and see how BAS preparation works in the real world.
Monarch Institute is an IPA education provider of choice because their courses prepare students for the real world of accounting and bookkeeping practice, whilst giving them the full flexibility of online learning. Their courses are designed to be studied online at your own pace, so you can fit learning around your current work and personal commitments. Plus the trainers are all highly experienced accounting and bookkeeping practitioners who can give you guidance about what it’s really like to work in this field.
Find out more about their accounting and bookkeeping courses here.
Experience and other requirements for BAS registration
To register as an individual BAS agent – the step that’s required to work as a contractor or set up your own business – you’ll also need to meet a couple of other requirements. First, once you’ve got your qualification (or while you’re studying) you need a minimum number of hours of relevant experience. If you’re using a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping as your primary qualification, you’ll need at least 1,400 hours of experience within a four-year period.
‘Relevant experience’, according to the TPB website, includes working under the supervision of a registered tax or BAS agent. So you could start your career as a clerk or assistant in a practice, working on BAS tasks, but not independently – with a registered agent as your mentor/boss.
While 1,400 hours of experience sounds like a lot, it’s the equivalent of less than a year of full-time work. And given that you’ve got up to four years in a row to get your work experience done, it’s feasible that you could split up your experience across part-time or casual shifts.
You may also be able to reduce your work experience requirement to 1,000 hours if you’re a voting member of a recognised BAS or tax agent association.
Finally, you will need to meet the ‘fit and proper’ requirements. This means that you have to have a good public reputation and generally be someone who’s trustworthy when it comes to managing tax and financial matters. You will most likely pass this requirement unless you have a conviction or penalty within the last five years for something like a tax offence, an offence involving fraud or dishonesty, or a sentence of imprisonment. You can find more about the official legal definition of ‘fit and proper’, and what would disqualify you, on the TPB website.
How to register as a BAS agent: 5 steps
There are five basic steps to becoming a BAS agent. You will need to:
Get your basic qualification
If you’ve chosen the Certificate IV route, this means completing your course within the allotted time.
Get your work experience
You can do your work experience at the same time as you study, or after you study, but it must all happen within four years before you register.
Get (or plan to get) your professional indemnity insurance
One of the rules of registration is that you have to get, or be able to get, professional indemnity insurance. The amount of cover you are required to have depends on the turnover of your business. You may need between $250,000 and $1 million of cover. The cover must have a wide scope, including everything from legal costs to full civil liability cover. Your employer may provide this insurance for you, but if you’re operating on your own, you’ll need to plan to pay for it. Premiums start from a few hundred dollars a year for the minimum coverage.
Do the online application
You can apply online to register as a BAS agent. When you submit your application, you will need to pay the application fee (currently $140). Make sure you have all your details ready to refer to as you complete the application form.
Upload the required documents and proof
You’ll need to have your ID ready, as well as copies of all the documents needed to prove your qualifications and experience. This means your academic transcripts, statements of experience from your supervisor/s, and association membership if relevant.
Get started on your journey to BAS registration
Your education is the foundation of your BAS agent career. Get started on the right foot with a learning experience and qualification that fits your needs and lifestyle. Get in touch with Monarch Institute today on 1300978 955. Don’t forget to mention you are an IPA member, for a discount.
Nick Chapman, chief executive, Monarch Institute