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Army June 21, 2012
With tax return time on the
doorstep, it's time to find
an appropriate accountant.
Australian Securities and
Investments Commission chair-
man Greg Medcraft provides
BECAUSE ADF members may be entitled to
certain tax and other benefits, you might want
to engage a professional accountant to help you
with your taxes or other financial arrangements.
Choosing an accountant is much like choosing any
other professional, such as a lawyer or plumber. Take
some time to shop around and select an accountant that
meets your needs.
For most of us, the word accountant is closely associated
with tax time.
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. Make sure your
accountant is a registered tax agent by checking online at
the Tax Practitioners Board website: www.tpb.gov.au.
If your finances are straightforward you can fill out
a paper tax return or use the Australian Tax Office's
(ATO) online e-tax system. If you have more complex
finances you might want to engage an accountant to
give you general advice on specific tax situations.
Accountants may also be able to help you with invest-
ment issues, provided they have an Australian Financial
Services Licence. Check if they have a licence on ASIC
Connect's professional registers.
If you or your family run a business, you will need the
services of an accountant or bookkeeper because there
are specific laws about the records that businesses must
keep. Search the ATO website for information on record-
How to find an accountant
Once you've decided on the type of accounting service
you need, the next step is to find an accountant in your
area. You can search the websites of professional bodies
such as the Certified Practising Accountants of Australia,
the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, or
the Institute of Public Accountants. You can also ask for
recommendations from family and friends.
Questions to ask
After you've created a short-list of accountants, contact
each of them and find out about:
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 specialised service.
Customer service -- do they provide a good service?
Make sure your accountant responds to phone calls
and emails promptly.
Fees -- what will you be charged, and when?
Qualified -- are they a member of one of the profes-
sional associations mentioned above? 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 accountant or the service provided.
For more information on choosing an accountant go to
Email ASIC at ADFcolumn@asic.gov.au with topics that
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