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Policies and Conditions of Service

We have set out below a summary of Robert Bates & Co’s policies and conditions of service.  Please familiarise yourself with our policies and we trust that this summary will be of benefit to you in understanding our services.

Client Communication and Privacy

Your personal or business information is private and confidential and we take our obligation to maintain this, very seriously.

 

Summarised below are some of the measures taken to ensure the confidentiality of your information:-

 

  • We maintain mail-in and mail-out registers to allow us to track correspondence which enables us to ensure correspondence is sent in a timely fashion.
  • We undertake in-house training of both our professional and administrative staff to ensure that they understand and implement behaviors that are necessary to protect the privacy and confidentiality of our clients.
  • We require written or verbal authority by clients before divulging information to third parties (persons other than our staff).
  • Correspondence from Robert Bates & Co may contain confidential and/or privileged information.  We use registered and express mail and couriers where appropriate to assist in maintaining privacy.  In addition we provide clients with the option of collecting their information personally and ensure their information is provided only to them or their authorised representative.
  • Staff have stringent confidentiality provisions in their employment agreements they must agree to before being employed by Robert Bates & Co.  Staff are not authorised to divulge information about clients to any other person.  Staff failure to maintain confidentiality can result in instant dismissal from Robert Bates & Co and notification to the relevant authorities.

Client Engagement

Engagement Documentation

When you engage our firm to become your tax agent and/or accountant, we have certain legal responsibilities towards you.

 

For personal income tax return clients an engagement letter is not required, as this document (as referred to in our client letters) sets out the terms and conditions of the engagement.

 

Engagement letters are required for:-

 

  • Individual business accounting clients;
  • Partnership accounting and/or taxation clients;
  • Company accounting and/or taxation clients;
  • Trust accounting and/or taxation clients;
  • Superannuation accounting;
  • Superannuation audit

 

Due to independence requirements we do not provide both accounting and audit services for the same superannuation fund.  If requested we are able to recommend an auditor for superannuation fund accounting clients.

 

We will prepare and forward to you for signature the appropriate engagement letters, which are tailored to each client’s situation. Once you have engaged our firm, we have an obligation to provide a level of service in accordance with both regulatory requirements and the professional standards of the professional associations with which we are affiliated. We are not obliged to take your business and in some circumstances we may have to decline to assist a prospective client.  Any decision made to decline business will be based on regulatory and ethical requirements.

Termination of Our Engagement

You are able to terminate your engagement with Robert Bates & Co at any time.  In order for us to release your records to your new accountants and/or tax agents we will require both clearance from yourself and an ethical letter from your new accountant.

 

Our partners are also able to terminate the engagement in writing at any time.  This is very rare and will only occur due to meeting our ethical requirements, repeated failure in clients to respond to correspondence or to make payment, or other unusual circumstances that may arise from time to time.  (See also below “Tax practitioner’s obligations to comply with the law”.)

 

Client’s Disclosure And Record Keeping Obligations

You are required by law to keep full and accurate records relating to your tax affairs.  It is your obligation to provide us with all information that would be reasonably expected would be necessary to allow us to perform the work contemplated under the engagement within a timely manner. This includes providing accurate and complete responses to questions asked of you.  Inaccurate, incomplete or late information could have a material effect on services and/or conclusions.

 

In addition to the financial information required to complete the tax return, it is expected that all relevant source documentation will be made available.  You are responsible for compliance with the substantiation provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act.  We will not be responsible for any errors brought about by your failure to provide information or documentation later found to be material to your tax affairs.  You are responsible for the timely provision of information and we will not be responsible for any late lodgement or other fees and fines brought about by information supplied in an untimely manner.

Client’s Rights & Obligations Under Taxation Laws

Taxpayers have certain rights under the taxation laws, including the right to seek a private ruling from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or to appeal or object against a decision made by the Commissioner.  Taxpayers also have certain obligations under Australian taxation laws, such as the obligation to keep proper records and the obligation to lodge returns by the due date.  We must keep you informed of any specific rights and obligations that may arise under Australian taxation laws.

Tax Practitioner’s Obligations To Comply With The Law

We have a duty to act in our clients’ best interests.  However, the duty to act in our clients best interests is subject to an overriding obligation to comply with the law, even if that may require us to act in a manner that may be contrary to your directions.  For example, we could not lodge an income tax return that we believe to be false.

Records And Information Management

Most of the records we retain are records we have created which are our property.  However, where original client documents such as company registers or trust deeds are maintained in our office, they remain the property of the client.

 

Our policy is to copy and return your records to you as soon as possible.  Documents may be copied and returned to you immediately, or else at the completion of a job.

 

We will, if you subsequently leave our firm, provide you with the following, in accordance with ethical, professional and legal standards:-

 

  •  All original documents that we may have retained and not yet returned; and
  •  If required copies of the latest financial reports and income tax returns.

 

We retain copies of client records in accordance with quality assurance requirements of the Institute of Public Accountants, with whom we are affiliated, and also in accordance with the law.

Professional Fees And Charges

Our professional fees for the services we provide will be based on the time and degree of skill and acumen required to complete the nominated tasks and will include as an additional item out of pocket expenses and disbursements, unless otherwise agreed between the parties.

 

This fee will be reviewed annually, and may vary from year to year.  Accurate estimates are difficult due to unforeseeable problems and delay, the cooperation or otherwise of third persons and/or deficiencies in documentation.  If costs are likely to be significantly higher than originally estimated, we will provide you with an additional letter of engagement informing you of this and setting out the reasons for the likely increases.

Standard Payment Terms

Our terms are strictly 14 days from the date of each invoice.

 

We accept the following forms of payment:-

 

  • cheque;
  • cash;
  • Visa and MasterCard;
  • Eftpos;
  • electronic funds transfer.

 

We do not offer a payment of fees from your tax refund service.

 

Outstanding debts are referred for recovery and we request that in instances where further time may be required for payment that you discuss the matter with us to make an arrangement, rather than leaving invoices unpaid with no communication.

Quality Review

As a member of the Institute of Public Accountants, as a firm we are subject to periodic public practice quality assurance reviews.  Unless otherwise advised, you are consenting to your files being part of such a quality review.  This review is of your client records and not of you as a client and you have full assurances that complete confidentiality will be maintained throughout.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation
*Other than for the acts or omissions of financial services licencees

Copyright 2018 Robert Bates & Co. All rights reserved.