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The Differences Between the Key People in Accounting

There are different roles a business needs to be filled when it comes to the accounting and finance facet of the business—each with its own expertise or interest. For a starting business, it is vital to work with people knowledgable about the accounting process to guide you through the complex process.


More often than not, people will advise you to hire an accountant, a bookkeeper, and a tax agent. Who among these people should you come to when a need arises? Do you need to have all three?


In this article, we will try to differentiate the three roles and what exactly each does to help you form a better impression on what your business may need.


What is an Accountant?


Accountants are the people who prepare a business’ financial statement. They are the people to look for when it comes to collecting, recording, analysing, and visualising a business’ financial operations. They interpret the financial information of a company, and they contribute to the business’ decision-making process.


Their role also differs depending on the scale of the business. For example, a small business may outsource an accountant for data collection and report generation tasks only. On the other hand, a more prominent company would hire an in-house accountant to take charge of the role of the financial adviser.


An accountant should be equipped with the following set of skills:

  • Mathematics

  • Reading and comprehension

  • Critical thinking

  • Communication and interpersonal skills

  • Computer knowledge


In short, an accountant is what you need if you’re looking for help with interpreting business findings and turning it into relevant information to make more informed business decisions. Accountants usually use bookkeeping data to proceed with their data analysis.


What is a Bookkeeper?


Bookkeepers are the people in charge of maintaining all the accounting records of the business. All the ingoing and outgoing transactions must first pass through them. They help with recording financial transactions through account books or computerised accounting software. This job role makes them familiar with how a particular company works.


Just like the accountants, they can either be hired in-house or outsourced depending on the business need.


Before one becomes a bookkeeper, they need to have the following skills:

  • Attention to detail

  • Mathematics

  • Reading and comprehension

  • Critical thinking

  • Communication and interpersonal skills

  • Relationship-building skills

  • Computer knowledge

  • Organisational skills


Simply put, bookkeeping is the service you need if your business requires recording, identifying, and measuring business transactions. Accountants usually step in to help when financial planning is necessary.


What is a Tax Agent?


Tax agents are accountants who specialise in taxation accounting. Before becoming one, they should have studied Australia’s tax and law, and they should register to the TPB (Tax Practitioners Board). A registered tax agent means they are qualified to provide tax services to the public. They will earn a license, and they should renew it every three years.


A tax agent should be able to help a business or individual with the following:

  • Advising a client about liabilities, obligations, and entitlements of entities according to taxation law

  • Act as a representative of a client or entities during dealings with the Commissioner of Taxation

  • Claiming entitlements under taxation law, given that the entity relies on their service to satisfy liabilities or obligations


In short, any concerns relating to tax is under a taxation agent. They need to always keep their knowledge about tax and legislations up-to-date to support the need of all businesses.


Conclusion


These different roles may look the same because of the field they are in, but each has its unique need that it fills. They are reliable sources of guidance and information depending on what your business needs. Make sure to understand your business demands and these people’s roles before you hire any one of them.


If you are looking for a small business accountant in the Gold Coast, we can help. Whether your business needs a bookkeeper, an accountant, or a tax agent, we have people here to help you start, grow, and scale your business. Contact us today to learn more!

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