What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?

There is quite a difference in what your bookkeeper can do for your business and what your accountant will do for your business.

A bookkeeper deals with the source documentation of your business. They record data for payments and receipts, they reconcile your bank account, in some cases they can deal with your customers e.g. following up on outstanding debtor accounts, and they may also help you pay your suppliers. In Australia, they may also complete your BAS (Business Activity Statement) on your behalf. However, it depends on the size of your business as to exactly what role your bookkeeper plays.

Your accountant, on the other hand, is only concerned with year end. They are interested in what has happened over the whole year and making sure you comply with legislation and are getting the right deductions in terms of tax. Your accountant then helps you work out what tax you need to pay at the end of the year.

So, your bookkeeper looks at your figures on a monthly or quarterly basis whereas your accountant is really only looking at your figures on an annual basis.

In some cases your accountant can fill both roles, bookkeeping and accounting, but your bookkeeper cannot complete accounting functions. Obviously there are different qualifications and experience required to fill an accountant’s role.

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