Institute of Certified NZ Bookkeepers
bookkeeping /ˈbʊkkiːpɪŋ/ noun
noun: bookkeeping; noun: book-keeping

The activity or occupation of keeping records of the financial affairs of a business.

Bookkeeping: then + now

How it all started

It was over 500 years ago that Luca Pacioli, an Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar who worked with Leonardo da Vinci, wrote about the system of double entry bookkeeping, where every debit value has a corresponding credit.  It is generally accepted that the merchants in Italy had used a similar accounting system for centuries, but Luca’s publication is a landmark in the history of bookkeeping.

Standard bookkeeping tasks

Bookkeeping has always been about recording and classifying all the financial transactions passing through a business.  Traditionally, bookkeepers wrote these in daybooks, cashbooks and journals and then transferred them to a ledger, so a bookkeeper was literally a “keeper of the books”.  Although bookkeeping and accounting software has now widely replaced the need to keep records by hand, a bookkeeper still enters all the transactions into the system and performs the necessary reconciliations to ensure the information is accurate and the business is compliant.  The types of entries a bookkeeper would usually deal with are:

  • Purchases and sales invoices, receipts and payments
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Reporting for GST
  • Reporting for the business owner or managers and the accountant
  • Payroll and looking after employee leave entitlements and records

The modern bookkeeper

Today, the modern bookkeeper covers all the standard bookkeeping tasks but harnesses technology to automate as much of the bookkeeping work as possible.  This means that the focus for the modern bookkeeper has changed from data entry to:

  • Helping the business understand its financial information
  • Improving business systems
  • Validating the data and reporting key information about business performance
  • Managing technologies and systems to ensure they are performing as required
  • Ensuring that the business remains compliant with leglislation

Bookkeepers in New Zealand

Our Certified Bookkeeper membership provides businesses with the reassurance that they are working with bookkeepers whose skills have been tested by the Association and who is required to comply with our strict Code of Ethics.  As Certified Bookkeeper members, our bookkeepers benefit from the support of other bookkeepers through local networking events and our annual national conference and are kept fully up to date by the Association’s webinars and newsletters.

When you engage with a bookkeeper who is an ICNZB Certified Bookkeeper you can expect them to:

  • Communicate regularly and effectively with you.  This will ensure that you are fully up to date with your business transactions and enables any problems to be quickly resolved.
  • Provide the output of their bookkeeping work so that you see the value of the service being provided.
  • Maintain a high level of professionalism, ethics and integrity at all times

We have four levels of certification to enable our members the opportunity to grow and develop their bookkeeping skills:

  • Black – our entry level where members have demonstrated awareness of accounting principles and bookkeeping fundamentals, including general ledger, accounts receivable and payable and cashbook
  • Green – our second level for bookkeepers who can demonstrate their knowledge of how to perform regular bookkeeping functions including GST, inventory management and fixed assets
  • Silver – our third level for bookkeepers who can demonstrate their ability to make best practice choices and who have knowledge of amortisation, doubtful debts, fixed assets, Fringe Benefit Tax, work in progress and gross profit.
  • Gold – our final level for experienced bookkeepers who can demonstrate proficiency in advanced concepts, year end reconciling, tax returns and management reporting.

Please refer to our development pathway page for more details on certification levels.

Bookkeeper Agents and Tax Agents

As well as being Certified Bookkeeper members of ICNZB, bookkeepers may also be registered with Inland Revenue (IR) to be Bookkeeper Agents or Tax Agents, and may also be members of the Accountants and Tax  Agents Institute of New Zealand (ATAINZ).  In this section, we explain the differences:

Bookkeeper Agent at IR

In 2019, IR introduced a Bookkeeper Agent status, recognising the value that bookkeepers add to businesses in New Zealand.  This is for bookkeepers who look after GST and PAYE obligations but who do not file Income tax returns for their clients.  It enables bookkeepers to act and communicate with IRD on behalf of their clients and provides a better overview of GST and PAYE obligations and balances.

In order to register as a Bookkeeper Agent, a bookkeeper must:

  • Have a minimum of ten clients for whom they act for, for GST or PAYE (etc), with signed letters of authority held
  • Sign statutory declarations and undergo a person-to-person interview with IR
  • Be tax compliant themselves

Tax Agent with IR

Bookkeepers who also prepare the annual tax returns of income for 10 or more taxpayers can apply to be Tax Agents with IR.  This means that they can act on a client’s behalf for all tax and social policies.

In order to register as a Tax Agent, a bookkeeper must:

  • Have a minimum of ten clients for whom they act for to file income tax returns, with signed letters of authority held
  • Sign statutory declarations and undergo a person-to-person interview with IR
  • Be tax compliant themselves