Choosing an accountant
How to find a tax
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 offer a range of services.
Accountants can assist with your tax return
An accountant can do your tax return each year, provided
they are a registered tax agent. You can check their
registration on the online tax and BAS
agent register. This type of accounting service is offered by
suburban accountants and large accounting firms with local
If your finances are straightforward (for example, your
only income is from an employer and you have few or
no deductions to claim), try doing it yourself online via myTax.
How Australians spend their tax refund
Take a look at our tax refund
infographic to find out the average refund and how people spend
Accountants can deal with complex tax issues
If your finances are more complex you may want to
engage an accountant to give you accounting and
tax advice. 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 the investments
of your self-managed super fund, they must have an AFSL.
ASIC's financial advisers register can tell you where a financial
adviser has worked, their qualifications, training, memberships of
professional bodies and what products they can advise on.
Check your accountant is licensed to provide investment
Financial advisers register
To find out more about the licensing of accountants
who give financial advice, visit the ASIC website.
Choosing an accountant for your business
Accountants can also help with your business. If
you own or run a business an accountant or bookkeeper can help
you keep the necessary financial records required by law which will
also tell you if you are making a profit.
For more information, check out the Australian Taxation Office's
record keeping essentials. Also look for
your local government business advisory service, they
can help you find a local business adviser or mentor.
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 your
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? Do they have the right experience to help with
your specific needs? If not you may have to pay for a more
- Customer service - Do they respond to phone
calls and emails promptly? Do they communicate in plain language
with limited use of financial jargon?
- Fees - What will you be charged, and
- Registered - If they are going to do complete
your tax return, your accountant must be registered, check
the tax and BAS
agent register. If they are providing investment advice, they
must have an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) or be an
authorised representative of an AFSL holder, check the financial advisers
- Qualified - Do they have appropriate tertiary
qualifications and are they a member of a professional association?
Examples of professional bodies include the Institute of Chartered
Accountants in Australia, Certified Practicing Accountants
Australia and the Institute of Public Accountants. Professional
bodies impose certain standards on their members and can deal with
complaints if you're not happy with your accountant.
If you're happy with the answers to all these questions you'll
feel more confident working with the accountant.
Good accountants can help you maximise
your income and minimise your tax. Take some time to shop around
and choose an accountant that meets your needs.
Last updated: 30 Jun 2017