Bookkeeper vs. Accountant

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The difference between a bookkeeper vs. an accountant can be compared to a technician verses a general manager.

hiring bookkeeper www.relianceoutsourcing.comTechnicians are skilled. They replace parts, perform routine maintenance, and they service pieces of equipment to ensure they operate smooth on a day-to-day basis. The technician may also be certified in the specific role that they hold.

General managers oversee the technicians in the respect that they see the big picture, they set the parameters for change, and they gather the big picture information to ensure the entire company runs like a well-polished machine.

Technicians can recommend change, but they typically are not the decision makers for employers.

A bookkeeper’s role consists of daily functions: accounts receivable, accounts payable, reconciliation of bank statements, reconciliation of month end, receipt of payments, and journal entries to correct and balance the financial books.

An accountant’s role comprises analyzing the resulting financial reports that are compiled from the daily tasks that the bookkeeper completes, and they make financial decisions and/or recommendations. An accountant is also trained to know the tax law. Accountants submit tax returns and forecast future financial and tax needs.

A full-charge bookkeeper will file some tax returns, to a lesser degree, which may include: payroll tax returns, sales tax returns, and unemployment tax returns.

Bookkeeper’s roles vary, and this is where the title “Full-Charge Bookkeeper” comes in. Some may complete:

  • Payroll and Employee Records
  • Collections
  • Manage Employee Insurance
  • Manage Vehicle and other types of Insurance Policies
  • And the list goes on…

How to Hire A Bookkeeper

When hiring a bookkeeper, be very specific in the role that you want the bookkeeper to fill. Do not expect the bookkeeper to be an accountant. A bookkeeper is trained to know basic accounting and financial reporting, in fact, they often supply the financial reports to the accountant, however, a bookkeeper is not trained to fully advise how to set up an accounting system (even though some do, and I have), and they are not fully trained in filing tax returns (such as franchise, year end, and annual types of tax submissions).

I have years of experience as a full-charge bookkeeper, but I do not make recommendations on how to set up a small business. I leave that to the accountants. I also recommend the use of solid bookkeeping software, such as QuickBooks, which can be integrated with banking and daily transactions.

Please contact me if you have further questions. I am here to help.


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