Terms of Engagement

Purpose, Scope and Output of the Engagement BerryCA will provide professional services at your request. We will provide the Services to you in accordance with the relevant professional and ethical standards. The details of the services provided will be issued to clients prior to undertaking any work. 


Where BerryCA has been engaged to prepare the annual financial accounts of your business. 

This service includes the preparation of:

  • a profit and loss statement;
  • a balance sheet; and
  • notes for the above accounts. 

This service includes maintenance of the chart of accounts for the general ledgers of your business, and telephone support should you require any assistance as to how to record specific transactions in the general ledger. However, this service does not include the preparation of one-off accounts for presentation to your financiers for additional finance and the like. 


Where BerryCA has been engaged to prepare and lodge income tax returns for you individually or your business. This firm will not be responsible for reviewing or verifying any financial records or statements provided to it either via manual cashbooks or prepared on accounting software such as MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks. Correct coding or classification of accounts is outside the scope of this engagement. If assistance is required on how to correctly code, or to review how you currently do so, please discuss this with us. This will entail work which is outside the scope of this engagement and will be charged as additional services. 

Also please ensure that you have all source documentation available to allow this firm to analyse the income tax implications of any transaction, if we request to see it. Whilst we will not as a matter of course be looking at these documents, the ATO will expect you (and you are required) to have them available before any claim is made in your income tax return. We may in some circumstances also request to see source documents if a tax issue is particularly contentious.

It is also expected that, in respect of individual income tax returns, each person will have the necessary documents so as to comply with the substantiation provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act. 

We will specifically advise as to the requirements of the substantiation provisions relating to your income tax return and of the necessity to obtain acceptable receipts as specifically required by the legislation. We will not, however, be checking that the requirements of the substantiation provisions have been satisfied. This specifically means that we will not be reviewing your logbook or any calculations or information you provide us, such as a rental property schedule either prepared by you on a spreadsheet or by a property manager. If you require assistance in completing a logbook or preparing any calculations, or you would like us to review such work, please discuss this with us. This will entail work which is outside the scope of this letter and will be charged as additional services. From time to time, this firm prepares templates and schedules to assist with the collation of information to complete income tax returns. These will be provided free of charge. The fee for this service does not cover any inquiries made to us, or investigations involving us, conducted by the ATO. Substantial penalties apply for an incorrectly prepared income tax return. If you have any queries in respect to this, please contact our office for assistance.

Unless otherwise stated herein, the Services covered by this engagement do not include audit or review services, therefore, no assurance will be provided. Unless agreed with you, the Services will not include specific identification of fraud or other illegal acts. If we do identify such acts or omissions, we will inform you. Before doing so, we will notify you as soon as practicable that we have identified any instances of fraud

Unanticipated Services 

Client will be provided with schedules that include our scope of work. Only these services  listed in the schedules are included within the scope of our instructions. If there is additional work that you wish us to carry out which is not listed in the schedule, any additional work will be quoted to you before the commencement of said additional work. Once the scope of the additional work is agreed upon, we will issue an additional or updated letter of engagement via our online proposal system, and will ask you to sign the new agreement before we commence the new work. 

Furthermore, clients will agree that if an unanticipated need arises (such as an audit, an amended tax return or a personal financial statement required as part of a loan agreement), this additional work will be performed only after arriving at a mutually agreed-upon price and a Change of Service Request is accepted with a digital signature. 

Areas of your business we are not engaged in or provide services 

The following are some (not all) areas of your business where we are not engaged due to required licensing, qualifications or those areas that need a specific separate engagement for us to act for you. 

  • Employment Relations – Awards, Pay Rates, Terminations,
  • Employment Contracts etc. 
  • Insurances – Business, Workers Compensation, Life, TPD, Injury & Accident, Motor Vehicle, House. 
  • State Based Taxes/Duties – Land Tax, Stamp Duty, Payroll Tax 
  • Superannuation – We are not a licensed financial planner and as such cannot advise on superannuation. We can only provide advice around tax implications of superannuation
  • Business Contracts/Agreements – Legal documents 
  • Valuing of Businesses – We do not hold the licenses required to undertake formal business valuations 
  • Loans – Owner occupied, Investment Property, Business, Asset. 

Please take this opportunity to look at your business or personal life and see if you need any of the above. I have built a great network of other professionals ( Financial Planners, Mortgage Brokers, Solicitors) that can help with some of the above and other areas we can point you in the right direction, but you need to contact us to do so.

Service and Price Guarantee 

BerryCA will always stand behind the quality and professional nature of the services that we offer. If at any point you are not completely satisfied with the services we have performed, we encourage you to bring this to our attention immediately. We’d love the opportunity to correctly address your concerns and allow us a chance to win your trust back and prevent similar problems from happening in the future. If you are still not satisfied with the outcome of our services, we will work towards a mutual agreement regarding the payment for services completed. As an example, we may agree to either forgive the related payment or accept a portion of the originally agreed price that reflects your level of satisfaction. Our advice and information is for your sole use, and we accept no responsibility to any third party, unless we have expressly agreed in the engagement letter that a specified third party may rely on our work.

Ownership of Documents 

All original documents obtained from the client arising from the engagement shall remain the property of the client. However, we reserve the right to make a reasonable number of copies of the original documents for our records.

Client Responsibilities and Warranties 

In conducting this engagement, information acquired by us in the course of the engagement is subject to strict confidentiality requirements. That information will not be disclosed by us to other parties except as required to provide the Services; as allowed for by law; or with your express written consent. 

The Client is responsible for the reliability, accuracy and completeness of the accounting records, particulars and information provided and disclosure of all material and relevant information. Clients are also responsible for providing us with such materials and relevant information in a timely manner so that we may provide our Services to you in a timely manner. Clients are required to arrange for reasonable access by us to relevant individuals and documents, and shall be responsible for both the completeness and accuracy of the information supplied to us. Any advice given to the Client is only an opinion which is based on our knowledge of the Client’s particular circumstances and is informed by the information, materials account records and particulars provided to us by the Client. 

You agree that we are entitled to rely on the accuracy and completeness of any information you provide us under this agreement and in order to provide our services to you. BerryCA accepts no liability or responsibility for any loss, damage, claim or expense that you may suffer as a result of you providing us with inaccurate, incomplete, incorrect out of date or untimely accounting records, particulars or information, and you waive and release us from any and all such liability. 

You agree to pay BerryCA the Fees in accordance with the Billing Schedule set out in this agreement. You warrant that you have not relied on any representations or warranties made by BerryCA in respect of the Services which have not been expressly set out in this agreement. You and your employees are responsible for the maintenance of the accounting systems and internal controls for all the Entities. That includes the keeping and maintenance of all required books of account. Our firm cannot be relied upon to disclose irregularities, including fraud, and other illegal acts and errors 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 Entities and we will not express an auditor’s opinion as to the truth and fairness of the financial statements.

Outsourced Services 

We may involve third party contractors or outsourced service providers in providing various aspects of your accounting work. These services may include: 

  • Accounting file preparation and/ or Data entry into our accounting systems 
  • Auditing of accounts (including Self-Managed Super Funds)
  • Hosting of data on cloud based servers Acceptance of our services in conjunction with this engagement document indicates your acceptance of the use of outsourced services as described above. 

Where the outsourced service requires the disclosure of personal information to an overseas recipient, a consequence of your consent is that BerryCA will be required to take reasonable steps to ensure that Australian Privacy Principles are complied with by the overseas recipients of the Personal Information. 

BerryCA has taken all available measures to ensure the security and privacy of your data is protected and follows the notifiable data breaches scheme as outlined in the Privacy Act 1988.

Limitation of Liability

Our liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. Further information on the scheme is available from the Professional Standards Councils’ website: https://www.psc.gov.au/.

Termination of this engagement 

Subject to any statutory provisions that apply to the Services, and unless otherwise outlined in this Terms document, either party may terminate this engagement at any time by giving 28 days written notice to the other. Either party may terminate this engagement immediately if the other commits any material or persistent breach of its obligations under this agreement, in particular the Terms and Conditions set out in the Engagement Letter (which, in the case of a breach capable of remedy, has not been remedied within 7 days of discovery by the party in breach), or if the other becomes insolvent. 

In addition, we may terminate this engagement on reasonable notice if any of the following circumstances occur: 

  • You fail to pay our accounts on time; 
  • You fail to provide us with requested information you fail to provide us with adequate instructions; 
  • Your instructions involve acting contrary to the interests of another client; 
  • a conflict of interest has arisen or it is not appropriate for us to continue to act on your behalf; 
  • We are no longer be able to provide all or part of the Services to you because of applicable auditor independence rules or legislation without ceasing to be independent in relation to an audit client; or f
  • or any other reasonable and just cause. 

In addition to our other rights, upon termination you will be required to pay our charges for work done, and for any expenses incurred up to the date of termination together with our reasonable costs and expenses incurred in connection with the early termination of this engagement. 

Termination of this engagement is without prejudice to any rights that may have accrued before termination. The Terms and Conditions of this agreement which expressly or by implication are intended to survive its termination or expiry will survive and continue to bind the parties. 

Non-compliance with Laws and Regulations (NOCLAR) 

During the performance of our work under this engagement, we may detect conduct or a transaction that is considered to constitute NOCLAR, which has a material effect on any documents or information that might be required to be provided to a regulatory authority (RA), such as the ATO. 

If we detect any NOCLAR, we may have an ethical requirement to make a disclosure to a RA. We will follow a formal process which will include advising you of our concerns, and if necessary, seeking legal advice. If we do seek legal advice, we reserve the right to ask you to pay or reimburse us for our reasonable costs. 

If we are required to make a disclosure to a RA, you agree to forever release us from any claim for costs or losses you incur in responding to or dealing with anything that arises from our disclosure. 

Force majeure 

Neither party will be liable to the other for any delay or failure to fulfil their obligations under this agreement if that delay and/or failure arises from causes beyond their control, including but not limited to fire, floods, acts of God, acts or regulations of any government or supranational authority, war, riot, terrorist activities, strikes, lockouts and industrial disputes. 

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.

Electronic Communications 

You agree that we will communicate with each other by electronic means such as e-mail, SMS etc. We and you each recognise that e-mail and the internet are inherently insecure and that emails and data can become corrupted, are not always delivered promptly (or at all) and that other methods of communication may be appropriate. In addition, the internet is prone to viruses. We and you each recognise these hazards and so each of us will be responsible for protecting our own systems and interests and neither of you nor we will be responsible to the other on any basis for any loss or damage in any way arising from the use of electronic communication.


Services may be billed on a fixed rate or hourly billing rate, as indicated per clients engagement letter. Where we cannot provide a fixed rate quote, we will quote an hourly rate in cases of project work where it is difficult to define the scope of the service required. In the case where you have been quoted an estimate based on an hourly rate, BerryCA will inform Clients of the amount of time used before we issue the final bill and collect payment. Our professional fees will be based on our regular billing rates, plus direct out-of-pocket expenses and applicable GST, and are due when rendered. Fees for additional services will be established separately. 

Invoicing and Payment 

We will submit our bill(s) as indicated in the engagement letter. If an extension of our services is requested, we will discuss our fee arrangements at that time. Plan implementation as well as plan monitoring and updating, if needed, are separate engagements. If you choose one of these additional services, a separate engagement letter will be provided. These services will be billed separately.

Privacy Act 

We may collect Personal Information about your representatives, your clients and others when we provide services to you. If we do, you agree to work with us to ensure that we both meet the obligations that we each may have under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (as amended) (Privacy Act). The obligations may include notifying the relevant person to whom the personal information relates who we are and how we propose to use their personal information. Where you have collected personal information, you confirm that you have collected the personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act, that you are entitled to provide this personal information to us and that we may use and disclose the personal information for the purpose/s we provide our services to you. We will handle personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act.

As a client of this practice, we are obliged to advise you of your rights and obligations under the taxation laws in relation to the services we provide to you. Set out below is a brief explanation of the main areas of the taxation system you should be aware of. If you have any concerns or issues with any of matters discussed below, please feel free to contact us. 

The self-assessment system

The Australian tax system operates as a self-assessment system. This means that when your tax return, Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) return or Business Activity Statement (BAS) is lodged, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) accepts the information in the return at face-value and issues you with an assessment notice based on that information. It is important to understand that this does not mean the assessment is final as the ATO can conduct a review or audit of the information provided in the return at a later time, subject to the time limits discussed in the topic below. 

The Commissioner’s ability to amend an assessment As explained above, the ATO accepts the information lodged in your return at face value. However, the ATO also has the power to amend the assessment if they find it to be incorrect. The following rules generally apply:


  • For most individuals, the ATO can amend an assessment within two years after you receive your notice of assessment. If the individual carries on a business and is not a Small Business Entity, that period extends to four years. 
  • If the individual is a partner in a partnership or a beneficiary of a trust, the period is two years. If the partnership carries on business and is not a Small Business Entity, the period extends to four years. If the trust is not a Small Business Entity, the period extends to four years. 


  • The ATO can amend a company assessment within two years after the company receives a notice of assessment where the company is a Small business Entity. If the company is a partner in a partnership or a beneficiary of a trust, the period is two years. If the partnership carries on business and is not a Small Business Entity, the period extends to four years. If the trust is not a Small Business Entity, the period extends to four years.
  • In any other case, the period is four years. 


  • The ATO can amend an assessment within two years after the trustee receives the notice of assessment if the trust is a Small Business Entity. 
  • If the trustee is a partner in a partnership or a beneficiary of a trust, the period is two years. If the partnership carries on business and is not a Small Business Entity, the period extends to four years. If the trust is not a Small Business Entity, the period extends to four years. 
  • In any other case, the period is four years. If the ATO amends an assessment, this will potentially involve, apart from increased taxes, penalties and interest. If you discover an error in the information declared in the return, lower penalties generally apply for making a voluntary disclosure. Note that there are no time limits on the ATO amending an assessment where they believe there has been fraud or evasion. 

Obligation to keep records

The tax laws specifically require taxpayers to keep records that properly explain the transaction they have entered into.


Individuals claiming deductions for work-related expenses are subject to the substantiation rules in the tax laws. This requires taxpayers to keep receipts, invoices etc., of the expenses they incur. Where the expenses relate to a taxpayer travelling interstate or overseas, a travel diary may also need to be kept. Where the expense relates to a motor vehicle, a record of the journeys taken such as a logbook may need to be kept. A failure to keep the appropriate records can lead to the ATO denying a particular deduction which may involve the imposition of penalties and interest. Substantiation records must be retained for five years


The tax laws specifically require a taxpayer that carries on business to keep records that record and explain all the transactions they have entered into. This includes all the documents that explain how the income and expenditure of the taxpayer was determined. Where the tax laws allow or require a taxpayer to make a choice, election, estimate or calculation, documents containing particulars of these matters must be kept. All these records must be retained for a period of five years. There are penalties for taxpayers who fail to do so.

Obligation to provide complete and accurate records 

In order for our practice to be able to lodge returns on your behalf, it is your responsibility to provide us with complete and accurate records. Further, in order to lodge your return on time, we will require you to provide us the relevant information as and when requested. 

Where you are unable to provide us with complete and accurate records, we may be unable to prepare and lodge your return. Tax agents are subject to a Professional Code of Conduct contained in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, which prevents them from acting for a client where insufficient records or information exists so as to be able determine the amount of the client’s income or deductions. 

We also reserve the right to question any claims for deductions or credits that in our reasonable judgment might be considered as being excessive, and we may ask for more substantiation or records to prove that such a claim is allowable under the law. If we believe that a claim is excessive and cannot be substantiated, we reserve the right not to include such a claim in your income tax returns or BAS, but you will have the right to lodge an objection after receiving your notice of assessment. There may be further costs in doing so, and we will advise you accordingly. 

Records for clients operating in the cash economy 

Because of the ATO’s concerns with dealings in the cash economy, there are particular recording imperatives for clients who operate in that sector. In particular, the ATO has a program of “benchmarking” standardised revenue returns for a wide range of cash businesses. 

In circumstances where it is dissatisfied with a taxpayer’s records or recording systems, the ATO will often assess income tax and/or GST on what it considers to be an appropriate “benchmark” amount (plus penalties and interest) and then put the taxpayer to the task of disproving that assessment.

Where that occurs, the taxpayer is at a serious disadvantage and can be put to a great deal of cost and effort in disputing the assessment. 

Taxpayers who operate in the cash economy are therefore urged to have a robust and reliable system for recording and reporting all cash transactions and to ensure that the recorded figures are accurate. 

If you need assistance in setting up or reviewing your recording and reporting systems, we will be happy to do so and will advise you of our rates for doing so on request. 

Right to seek a Private Binding Ruling 

When preparing your return, we may identify one or more issues that are not clear under the tax laws. Where we have pointed out such issues to you, you have a right to request a Private Binding Ruling from the ATO. Upon providing the ATO with all the relevant facts, they will provide you with a ruling setting out their view on the proper tax treatment of the issue requested to be ruled upon. 

Objecting against an assessment 

If the ATO issues you with an assessment that you do not agree with, you have the right to lodge an objection against that assessment. The objection must be lodged with the ATO within either two or four years. As to which period applies, this is determined in the same way as the discussion above under the heading ‘Commissioner’s ability to amend an assessment’. 

Where the ATO issues an amended assessment, the period for objecting is the greater of:

  • 60 days from the time the amended assessment is received; or 
  • two or four years (whichever is applicable) from the time the original assessment was received. 

If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the objection, you have the right to have the matter reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or to appeal the matter to the Federal Court.

Onus of proof falls on the taxpayer

It is important to be aware that in any disputed assessment before the court or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the onus of proof is placed on the taxpayer. In other words, if the Commissioner asserts that your income should include a certain amount or that a deduction claimed in a return is not allowed, it will be up to you to establish that the Commissioner’s view is incorrect. 

Your protections under TASA 

The Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) and complementary amendments to the applicable taxation administration legislation provide statutory protections for taxpayers who engage registered tax agents. 

In particular, as your tax agent, we are bound by a statutory Code of Conduct which is administered by a new national Tax Practitioners Board. That Code requires us, amongst other things, to act lawfully in your best interests and with honesty and integrity in the performance of our duties.

In addition, as the client of a registered tax agent, you have statutory “safe harbour” exemptions from penalties in certain circumstances. 

When did the safe harbour provisions commence? 

The safe harbour can only apply for returns lodged on or after 1 March 2010. How does the safe harbour work? In order to benefit from the safe harbour should the need arise, it is a requirement for you to ensure that you provide us with all of the relevant tax information. This includes any records, or documents we request from you plus any other information relevant to the preparation of your tax return. The information provided must be complete and accurate. 

It is equally important that you provide us with this information by the time it is requested so as to allow the return to be lodged by its due date. The safe harbour from late lodgment penalties can also apply where a Business Activity Statement, Instalment Activity Statement, or Fringe Benefits Tax return is lodged late. 

What does the safe harbour apply to? 

Whilst the safe harbour can apply to exempt the penalty for an error made in a tax return, it is important to note that the tax and interest will be still be payable. 

What if the safe harbour does not apply? 

Even if you are not eligible for the safe harbour, it is still possible to request the ATO remit or reduce the penalty.

with Us

BerryCA is a proactive tax, accounting and advisory firm located in the beautiful town of Berry, serving the NSW South Coast from Huskisson, through Nowra and Kiama, up to Wollongong, the Illawarra and Sydney.