Is your accountant worth keeping?

Is your accountant worth keeping?

It’s a good time to review how your business is performing, including your accountant.The new financial year gives business owners a chance to review how their business has performed. It’s also the perfect time to plan ahead for the coming year and look for ways to improve your business. But many owners forget to include their choice of accountant in this equation.
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If an owner wants to maximise their profit potential, while at the same time minimising taxes payable, they need to assess whether they have a tax agent or an accountant. A tax agent, despite what they call themselves, only ever looks backward, concentrates on tax returns and financial statements, and never makes suggestions on how to improve the business or the owner’s tax situation.

Q. I am in the process of changing accountants. So far it has taken four weeks and I have urgent taxation commitments to sort out. Is there a legal process I can follow to get reimbursement for overcharging? The old accountant has charged $53,500 for the 2011-12 financial year, which is not in accordance with the signed letter of engagement.

My old accountant did not lodge our March BAS when he was supposed to and it is now seriously overdue, and he will not sign the ethical letter sent by our new accountant. Does this preclude him from registering as our accountant with the ATO? The old accountant said he would not sign the ethical letter because there were more invoices to come and he will get around to that when he can.

A. As your new accountant has sent the ethical letter, and the old accountant is refusing to return it, there is nothing stopping him registering with the ATO as your tax agent and sorting out your urgent tax matters.

A good accountant should be able to take the last set of financial statements and tax returns prepared for your business and, combined with the information obtainable from the ATO, quickly sort out your lodgement commitments with the ATO.

I don’t know of any legal steps you can take to recover amounts that have been overcharged to you. From what you have described it sounds as if your old accountant has not acted in a professional manner. One of your best options will be to report your old accountant to the professional body he belongs to.

If you receive another bill from the old accountant you can request that he justify what is being charged. He should be able to provide you with time records that prove how much work has been done and what hourly rate the services are charged at.

In addition to him failing to lodge your March BAS on time it also appears he has not properly discharged his tax agent duties. This will mean your old accountant is in breach of several of the codes of conduct laid down by the Tax Practitioners Board. You should therefore also report his behaviour so appropriate disciplinary action can be taken by the board.

Questions on business tax and other matters can be emailed to [email protected]南京夜网.au.

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