The duties of each are different, though to most the HOW and WHY are confused.
An accountant will generally have a degree qualification and have further studies added to this such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Accountant (CA). A bookkeeper on the other hand will have a Diploma or Certificate qualification, either in Bookkeeping or the Financial Services.
The bookkeeper is the small business owners daily/weekly/monthly go to. The daily financial transactions of the business are either sourced by or allocated for by the bookkeeper. This includes invoicing, posting to the general ledger accounts, and reconciling bank statements.
A further duty of the bookkeeper may include running payroll. A registered bookkeeper (BAS Agent) can lodge BAS Statements on behalf of their GST registered clients as well as lodge Pay As You Go Witholding (PAYGW), employee Superannuation Guarantee Charge (SGC) and end of year forms such as the Payment Summary Annual Report and Taxable Payments Annual Report.
These duties may also be performed by an accountant however the fees are higher when doing so.
To help you decide if your business requires the services of a bookkeeper read our last blog "6 Signs Your Business Needs a Bookkeeper".
The accountant will receive the books from the bookkeeper or small business owner at the end of the financial year ready to prepare the business’ tax return. The accountant will make end of year adjustments and then lodge the appropriate tax return/s based on business structure. The Australian Tax Office requires accountants who lodge tax returns to be a Registered Tax Agent.
Search the register here to determine whether your bookkeeper or accountant is a registered BAS or Tax Agent.
A further role of an accountant and one relevant to the small business owner, is tax planning advice including business structure setup i.e. sole trader, partnership, trust or company.
Keeping the bookkeeping and accounting roles separate and independent helps to eliminate complacency and has a higher service value for business owners. The business owner can rely on their bookkeeper to be readily available for account queries and cash flow matters. For matters beyond the scope of the bookkeeper, the accountant can be consulted, either by the bookkeeper or small business owner. Open communication between all three provides the most beneficial scenario.
Balance My Books WA is a registered BAS Agent that specialises in online cloud bookkeeping for micro and small businesses.
Do you still have grey areas concerning the duties of accountant v bookkeeper? Comment below: