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Posted in 10/03/2017 – Source: Sage

The point is that, most of times, there is a fine line between the qualities of an administrator and an accountant.


What is the real responsibility of an accountant in the companies? In a time when new obligations emerge every day, it is not difficult for the businessmen or even for the accounting professionals, face some dilemma. On one side, the administrator believes that can delegate more and more tasks. On the other hand, the accountant feels strangled with such a heavy workload that does not stop increasing.

The point is that, most of times, there is a fine line between the qualities of an administrator and an accountant. However, there is a perspective in each of the services and in this article we will deepen a little bit in the subject, pointing out what each professional’s real role is.

The administrator is always responsible

Although there are attributions that are the accountant’s responsibility, the result of all these actions, in one way or another, the manager’s responsibility. Blaming the accountant for a company's poor financial performance, for instance, or turning the back to all bureaucratic procedures, is far from it a good way to handle this issue.

Thus, being attentive to the financial statements, know how to manage costs and paying on time all the bills and taxes are functions that must be shared between both of them. If on the one hand the accounting professional has the role of indicating the best ways and what should be done, on the other hand it is up to the manager to guarantee the necessary environment for the notes to be followed.

Civil and criminal responsibilities are shared

Some people claim that if anything goes "wrong," it is the accountant's responsibility. Not really. The accounting professional has, in fact, civil, tax and criminal responsibility on many aspects of the company, but the businessman has joint liability. If one of them does anything wrong, both respond accordingly.

Thus, even if the modern accountant is able to take on more functions than merely being an accounts clerk in an office, as enacted in 2008 Law number 11.638, the entrepreneur must, likewise, be open to accept the indications and to supervise the proper exercise of the contracted professional whenever necessary.

The accountant’s criminal responsibility

We can list a series of responsibilities of a professional accounting. Let's start with the criminal terms. Forging or altering market documents, for instance, is a crime as well as a false statement in an accounting document.

In this case, it is up to the accountant to alert the entrepreneur concerning to these mistakes - and never to have joint liability with them. Inaccurate information on the balance sheet or omission of entries in the accounting book are other items that may result in imprisonment of up to six years.

The accountant’s civil liability

In civil terms, it is up to the accountant to respect all the legal or contractual terms, especially when for some reason they generate damages to third parties. The technical errors of an accounting balance, for example, are from the responsibility of the professional accounting and there is a period of five years, from the knowledge of the fact, so that he can be held liable. In case of loss, it will be up to the accountant to repair the all the damage which had been caused.

The accountant’s tax liability

In case of falsity of documents signed by him or of tax fraud, the accountant can also be triggered by the Union as the direct liable party. Thus, crimes against the tax order or documents forgery, of any nature, can result to the professional a penalty of imprisonment of up to 5 years, in addition to a fairly severe fine.

The accountant is not liable by himself

For the entrepreneurs, this is the point at which the maximum attention must be paid. In all cases, although the accountant may be the direct guilty, as it can be considered, the businessman is equally responsible. The reciprocal is also true for accounting professionals.

In other words, it is up to the entrepreneur to make sure that his accounting professionals are acting according to what is recommend by the laws. And it's up to the accountants not to submit to possible counter-orders of their bosses, who may, at some point, want to use the professional to take some advantage.

It is a relationship of mutual dependence that will only have good results if both are guided by the paths of honesty and correction. When the inspection comes to visit your company, it is of such importance that all details have been observed, as required by law.

Even entrepreneurs who are not very familiar with the subject need to be aware. Having the basic ideas of how an accounting department works is essential. To claim ignorance, in case of any problem, is not an alternative. So, keep an eye on your documentation and your taxes. As you might realize, the accountant's responsibility is strong - but the entrepreneur’s is even greater.


Source: Fenacon

Translation: Grazielle P. Segeti

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