When choosing an accountant, look for one that will suit you or your business. Some accountants specialise in tax returns for individuals or for businesses in a particular industry, and others are experts in a particular area of tax.
Help with your tax
An accountant can help you prepare and lodge your tax return.
If you're an employee
An accountant can be useful if you have multiple jobs or income from investments. They can also help you claim all the tax deductions you're entitled to and make sure your tax return is correct.
If your income is from one employer, your tax return will be less complicated.
You can lodge your return yourself online for free using myTax, the ATO's free online tax return. You need a myGov account linked to the ATO to lodge online.
If you work for yourself
If you work for yourself as a sole trader, contractor or freelancer, an accountant can help.
They can help with your BAS (business activity statements) and PAYG (Pay as you go) instalments. They can also tell you what deductions you can claim, and give advice on super contributions and tax.
Help with your business
If you run your own business, an accountant can help you set up and maintain your financial records. They can also help you meet your tax obligations.
The right accountant can also offer advice and guidance on your accounts as your business grows.
They can help with:
- setting up accounting and bookkeeping software
- setting up the legal structure of your business — for example, as a company, corporation, partnership or sole trader
- applying for an ABN or ACN
- dealing with the ATO on your behalf
- profit, loss and forecasting
- paying staff or contractors
Finding the right accountant
A good place to start looking for an accountant is recommendations from people you know.
Make sure the accountant is a member of a professional body. Members of these bodies have an accredited tertiary qualification and must comply with professional standards.
Only registered tax agents can prepare and lodge tax returns. Check if your accountant is registered on the Tax Practitioners Board Register.
To provide advice about investing or planning for retirement, an accountant must have an Australian financial services (AFS) licence. Check your accountant is licensed to provide investment advice.
Questions to ask an accountant
When you first meet or call an accountant, ask them about:
- their qualifications and registration
- which professional bodies they belong to
- their services and speciality areas
- their main client base
- their fees — for example, how much they charge and whether they will take their fee from your tax return
- how you will submit your paperwork — for example, in a template or using specific software
- who will look after your account
- where they are located
- how they deal with complaints