Standard Engagement Terms & Conditions
1. Accounting & record keeping
In undertaking this engagement, it is understood that you will generally ensure that:
- The bookkeeping for all business entities is maintained on a regular basis. In fact, we recommend the bookkeeping and record-keeping tasks be attended to each week.
- Reconciliations for the bank accounts, debtors and creditors are performed at the end of each month for each of the business entities.
- A stocktake will be performed during the last weekend in June for each entity that deals in trading stock.
- It is expected that the trial balance of each of the business entities will be completed no later than 31st July each year.
In respect of the personal tax returns for you and your family, it is expected that all relevant information will be collated and forwarded to our office by the agreed scheduled date each year. We shall detail more specific requirements in respect of the individual tax returns later in this letter.
2. Taxation Services
In engaging us to provide taxation services, it is important for you to understand that:
- You are responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the particulars and information provided to us by you.
- Any advice we provide is only an opinion based on our knowledge of your particular circumstances.
- You have obligations under the self-assessment regime to keep full and proper records in order to facilitate the preparation of accurate returns.
- We cannot provide taxation services if we find that the information on which those services are to be based contain false or misleading information, or omit material information, and you are not prepared to appropriately amend that information.
3. Compilation of financial statements
By engaging us to compile financial statements, you acknowledge that:
- The reliability, accuracy and completeness of the accounting records are your responsibility; and
- That you have disclosed to us all material and relevant information.
4. No statutory financial audits are conducted
You and your employees are responsible for the maintenance of the accounting systems and internal controls for all the business entities. That includes the keeping and maintenance of all required books of accounts. Our firm cannot be relied upon to disclose irregularities, including fraud, other illegal acts and error that may occur with regard to such matters.
Our firm is not being engaged to conduct a statutory audit of the financial records of any of your business entities and we will not express an auditor’s opinion as to the truth and fairness of the financial statements.
Before we lodge any returns on your behalf, we will forward the documents to you for approval. We will endeavour to ensure that the returns are lodged by the due dates and will advise you at the beginning of the financial year when documentation should be provided to us. If you are late in providing information, we will do our best to meet the time limits, but we will not be responsible for any late lodgement penalties or interest charges you may incur.
6. Ownership of documents
The financial statements, tax returns and any other documents which we are specifically engaged to prepare, together with any original documents given to us by you, shall be your property. Any other documents brought into existence by us, including general working papers, the general ledger and draft documents will remain our property at all times.
If our services are terminated (by either party), each client separately agrees that we shall be entitled to retain all documents owned by that client (including all tax refund cheques of that client which come into our possession) until payment in full of all outstanding fees from all members of the group on any account. Where copies of any documents released to you are required for our records, you will be charged for the cost of photocopying at our normal rates.
7. Outsourced Services
We have accounting professionals located in overseas locations who work on client assignments. We take care to ensure that the overseas recipient does not breach the Australian Privacy Principles in relation to personal information and have confidentiality agreements in place with all personnel who access personal information.
8. Cloud Hosted Software
We use cloud based accounting and business software that contains your personal and financial information. The database containing this information is located in Australia but it may be replicated to other locations. The suppliers of this software have privacy policies that are consistent with the Australian Privacy Principles.
9. Data Storage
We use data storage located in Australia. The providers of this storage have privacy policies that are consistent with the Australian Privacy Principles.
Accepting our services as part of this engagement agreement indicates your acceptance of the use of outsourced services, cloud-hosted software and outsourced data storage under the conditions outlined above.
10. Losses from unauthorised cyber activity
We will take all reasonable precautions to ensure that any electronic data that contains your private information is securely stored and that any email transmissions are protected and are not able to be intercepted by third parties. However, we cannot be held liable for any loss that you might incur as a consequence of any third party intervention that accesses, procures or copies any data that contains your private information from any medium or device we use to store or transmit such information.
In the event that, despite our firm having taken reasonable precautions to securely store your private information, you suffer any losses arising from unauthorised cyber-activity, you agree to forever release us from any claim for your losses.
11. Additional services
The scope of our engagement is the preparation and lodgment of the accounting and taxation matters detailed above. Any agreed fee applies only to services and advice provided within the scope of our engagement. This fee includes the checking and forwarding of original assessments and original payment notices that are received from the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).
However, any additional services or advice that you request are outside the scope of our engagement and not included in this agreed fee. These services will be charged on the basis of the time and degree of skill and acumen required to complete the task undertaken by us, including any direct out of pocket expenses. Please note in particular that any correspondence from the Australian Taxation Office or ASIC that does not relate to initial assessments nor original payment notices, will be
charged as additional services.
12. Professional Fees and charges
The fee arrangement is based on the expected amount of time and the level of staff required to complete the services as agreed. This fee arrangement may be subject to change if any circumstances come to our attention which may have an impact upon the scope of work. Should this occur we will advise you before commencing the additional work.
Consistent with previous years, and where possible, we are happy to provide you with an annual estimation of your fee.
Please note that where an estimate is given and the scope of the work changes, or if it becomes apparent that the work involves matters which were not taken into account in the estimate, we will endeavour to advise you and provide an amended estimate as soon as it is practicable to do so.
Unless otherwise stated in writing, any estimates which we provide to you of our anticipated fees,disbursements and charges for any work are only indicative of the amounts you can expect to be charged. Estimates are not quotes or caps and are not binding on us.
13. Payment terms
Payment of fees will be due within 7 days of receipt of our invoice.
Payment of monthly retainer or agreed fees will be by way of Direct Debit which will be arranged with you from your preferred bank account or credit card.
Late payments and non-payment of our fees will result in accounts being referred to our debt collector. Any collection fees, charges or other imposts will be referred to you for payment in these circumstances.
14. Unanticipated Services
If an unanticipated need arises, we agree to perform this work at a mutually agreed upon price before the service is provided.
This service will be billed to you separately, as part of a change order, and will be payable upon presentation.
Unless otherwise expressly agreed with you in writing, our professional fees are charged at hourly rates based on expected level of attention of engagement.
Hourly rates are as follows and exclude GST:
- Directors $300- $350
- Professional Staff $160 – $250
- Support Staff $100 – $150
These hourly rates may vary from time to time throughout the year. Subject to any agency arrangements for GST discussed below under the heading “GST-Disbursements, disbursements properly incurred from external suppliers (couriers, ASIC fees, other Government fees etc) will be charged to you at cost plus GST.
It is understood that either party may terminate this Agreement at any time, for any reason, within 10 days of written notice to the other party. It is understood that any unpaid services that are outstanding at the date of termination are then payable in full within 10 days.
16. GST – professional fees
Our professional fees are inclusive of Goods and Services Tax (“GST”). If the services we are providing are provided to your business then you may be able to claim a GST input tax credit for the GST you pay us. However, this will not be the case if the services we provide are used by you in creating an input taxed supply. In this situation you cannot claim the GST associated with our professional fees as an input tax credit.
If your matter involves a mixture of taxable, GST free and input taxed supplies we will not apportion our professional fees between these categories of supply unless you have expressly requested us to do so.
Please note that if you make such a request after the commencement of any particular matter it may not be possible for us to subsequently apportion professional fees that were incurred prior to receiving your request. If you need separate advice on whether you will receive the benefit of a GST input tax credit for the GST paid to us then please contact us.
17. GST – Disbursements
In addition to our professional fees, you will be responsible for payment of expenses which we incur on your behalf (together with the GST that we pay in relation to such expenses as set out below).
Certain government charges and fees included in some matters undertaken in the scope of our engagement are effectively “GST free” to the applicant, but will attract the 10% GST if paid by this firm and then passed on to you as part of our services. Accordingly for certain disbursements in this category, namely:
- ASIC fees;
- New company and trust deed orders; and
- Other specific disbursements notified from time to time,
We will act as your agents in incurring those disbursements. You will therefore technically be primarily liable to pay the account to the supplier. Under this agency relationship, you will receive the benefit of any concessional GST treatment of any part of the disbursement.
Where GST is payable on some or all of a supply acquired by us as your agent, we will forward you the Tax Invoice and you will be entitled to claim the input tax credits directly if you have an ABN and are entitled to claim input tax credits.
For disbursements incurred in this manner we may in some cases require that you provide us with separate cheques for the relevant amounts to be paid directly to the relevant government body or supplier.
For all other disbursements (couriers, searches, photocopying etc) the treatment will be the same as for professional fees – this firm will incur the costs at first instance and invoice them on to you after making allowance for any GST input tax credits received by us on the acquisition. These invoices will include GST for which you may be entitled to claim an input tax credit.
18. Tax Services Specifically
You must provide all information and documents relevant to the proper performance of the work at the outset of the engagement and during the engagement. This includes promptly advising us of anything that occurs subsequently to render information already provided misleading or incomplete, or advising of any change in your circumstances relevant to the work.
If during the engagement you become aware of any conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest or there is a change of circumstances which may result in a conflict, you must advise us. Events which may give rise to a conflict of interest or potential conflicts during the engagement include events affecting you, such as deaths, matrimonial disputes as well as litigation (threatened or actual) or changes in the nature or structure of your business or your business relationships.
There are provisions in the Taxation Administration Act 1953 that provide you (as from 1 March, 2010) with “safe harbours” from administrative penalties for incorrect or late lodgement of returns if, among other things, you give us “all relevant taxation information” in a timely manner. This means that it is to your advantage to give us all information necessary for us to do the work.
While the work is within our knowledge and skills, any changes to the work may necessitate making new arrangements with you.
We will act in your best interests but like all citizens, we must comply with the law, even where that may be contrary to your interests. For example, we must comply with certain statutory notices from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which may require payment to it of money we are holding on your behalf, or the production of documents or information.
You must provide all information and documentation which we should take into account in applying the taxation laws. Any failure by you to provide all such information and documentation, both voluntarily and in answer to our questions, may affect your ability to access the safe harbour provisions and will be taken into account when assessing our obligations under the law.
Our obligations under this principle are also limited to the extent of any disclosure by us in this letter of specific specialties, skills, or lack thereof, or other limitations.
We will separately account to you for all money and other property received from you or for you other than money received from you in payment of our fees for services already rendered.
Subject to the law, we must not disclose any information relating to your affairs to a third party without your consent.
The taxation laws confer on you certain rights (such as to challenge a decision of, or an assessment issued by, the ATO) but also impose obligations on you (such as the keeping and retaining of adequate and accurate records and the filing of relevant returns with the ATO within the required time limits). We will keep you informed on specific rights and obligations under the taxation laws that become relevant from time to time during the course of the work we perform for you.
19. Limitation of liability
(a) Professional Standards Act
Under the Professional Standards Act and the Scheme approved under the Act, the liability of the firm, its partners, associates and employees or contractors is limited to a maximum sum of $750,000, where the fee for the engagement is up to $75,000, or ten times the fee (subject to a $750,000 ceiling) for fees in excess of $100,000.
A copy of the Act and the scheme are available on the website of The Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CAANZ), or Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA)
(b) The scheme does not apply to limit our liability arising from any of the following:
(i) death of personal injury to a person;
(ii) negligence or other fault of a legal practitioner in acting for a client in a personal injury claim;
(iii) breach of trust;
(iv) fraud or dishonesty; or
(v) liability which is the subject of proceedings under Part 14 of the Real Property Act 1900.
The exceptions listed herein above are not exhaustive and may include other situations such as members not meeting the requirements of the Act or the Scheme, for example, non-disclosure of the limitation of their liability, etc.
(c) Contractual Limitation
You agree, to the extent permitted by law, that the liability to you of the firm, its partners, associates and employees or contractors, in any way arising from or connected with this engagement including, without limitation, liability for negligence, will be limited to a maximum of $2,000,000, where the fee for the engagement is up to $100,000, or ten times the fee (subject to a $75 million ceiling), for fees in excess of $100,000 and you release and indemnify the firm, its partners, associates and employees or contractors from all claims arising from or connected with the performance or purported performance of any services arising from or connected with this engagement letter to the extent any such claim or claims made exceed that limit.
(d) Third Parties
Nothing produced by this firm, its partners, its employees or contractors is to be made available by you to other than your own employees in any way whatsoever without our written permission and, in any event, we accept no responsibility to any third party. You agree and undertake that you will make the provisions as to limitation of liability known to anyone, including your own employees, to whom you may disclose anything produced by us pursuant to this engagement letter.
(e) Your Knowledge of this Obligation
We have discussed with you the limitation of our liability created by this clause. You acknowledge that we have advised you that you may wish to obtain legal advice on all questions arising from the terms of our engagement letter and, in particular, the limitation of liability provisions, because they may impact on your legal rights.