Choosing an accountant
Death and taxes...
Choosing an accountant is much like choosing any other
professional, such as a lawyer or plumber. The key is to shop
What accountants can
do for you
For most of us, the word 'accountant' makes us think of tax
time but accountants can offer a range of services.
You can engage the services of an accountant to do your tax
return each year, provided they are a registered tax agent. You can
check this on the online tax and BAS
This type of accounting service is widely used and typically
offered by suburban accountants and large accounting firms with
local offices. Look out for the advertisements come tax time.
If your finances are straightforward (for example, your
only income is from your job and you have few or no benefits to
claim), try doing it yourself by filling out a paper tax return or
using the Tax Office's online E-tax system.
More complex tax issues
If you have more complex finances you may want to engage an
accountant to give you general advice on specific tax situations.
Accountants may also be able to help you with investment issues
provided they have an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL).
You can check if they have a licence on ASIC Connect's Professional Registers.
If your accountant gives you advice about your self-managed
super fund, they must have an AFSL. Make sure they are licensed by
asking for their AFSL number and searching ASIC's financial
advisers register to see what products they are allowed to advise
Financial advisers register
To find out more about the licensing of accountants
who give financial advice, visit the ASIC website.
Another reason people use accountants is for business purposes.
Most businesses require the services of an accountant or bookkeeper
because there are specific laws about the records that businesses
need to keep.
If you run a business, check out the Australian Taxation
Office's information on record keeping essentials. A local
government business advisory service may also be able to help out -
find your nearest service using Advisor
How Australians spend their tax refund
Take a look at our tax refund
infographic to find out the average refund and how people spend
How to find an
You can find accountants in your area by searching online.
You can also ask for recommendations from family and
Questions to ask
After you have created a shortlist of accountants, contact each
of them and find out:
- Specialisation - What services do they
offer? Do they regularly deal with people in similar
situations to you? If you have specific needs, make sure your
accountant has experience in that area. If not you may have to pay
for a more specialized service.
- Customer service - Do they provide a good
service? Make sure your accountant responds to phone calls and
emails promptly. You may also want an accountant that communicates
in plain language, not financial jargon.
- Fees - What will you be charged, and
- Registered - If they are going to do your tax
return make sure your accountant is registered at the online tax and BAS
agent register. If they are going to advise you on a
self-managed super fund, make sure they have an Australian
Financial Services License from 1 July 2016.
- Qualified - Are they a member of a
professional association? (For example, the Institute of Chartered
Accountants in Australia, Certified Practicing Accountants
Australia or the Institute of Public Accountants.) If they are,
they have to meet the standards of the association. It also means
you can complain to the association if you're not happy with your
If you're happy with the answers to all these questions you can
feel confident about working with the accountant.
Good accountants can help you grow your
money. Take some time to shop around and choose an accountant that
meets your needs.
Last updated: 07 Mar 2017