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A Bookkeeper's Code of Ethics
Bookkeepers record financial transactions and keep track of a company's or an organization's money flow. Because the buck stops with you, it's important to have the highest integrity when reporting and recording income and outgo. An official code of ethics governs certified bookkeepers to ensure compliance and appropriate behavior, according to The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. Certified bookkeepers must have two years of experience in bookkeeping, be able to perform payroll for up to 100 employees, pass an exam, sign a code of ethics and meet continuing education requirements, according to the AIPB.
Do No Harm
Even though bookkeepers don't sign a physician's code of ethics that says "I will do no harm," the basic principle is the same. Bookkeepers must follow procedures to ensure their financial reporting doesn't deliberately harm or damage clients, employees or the company. It's your responsibility to remain loyal and keep all financial matters confidential. Unless you're preparing financial reports for upper management, you shouldn't disclose financial information about clients, the company or employees working at the firm. You must ensure that your work and behavior doesn't conflict with the employer's goals, interests or intentions.
Play It Safe
A bookkeeper should never purposely falsify information, misrepresent financial statistics or forge data. It's your responsibility to remain entirely objective in your transactions and reporting. When you face a financial dilemma, such as how to report a specific transaction or how to detail a transaction for tax purposes, consult your boss or an accountant at the firm. If asked to do something questionable, notify upper management immediately and seek legal counsel if necessary.
Rely on Checks and Balances
Everybody makes mistakes, but you should always check your work for accuracy. Most bookkeeping and accounting software programs have a double-entry system that helps to avoid financial pitfalls. However, it's part of a bookkeeper's code of ethics to be responsible and avoid negligence. If you make an error, notify your supervisor of the discrepancy and follow all steps to reconcile the mistake. Ensure you thoroughly understand how your company's accounting software works, so you can accurately process payroll, record accounts payable transactions, report accounts receivable transactions, maintain balance sheets and produce financial reports.
Stay Up to Date
Be prepared to provide government agencies and legal institutions with up-to-date, accurate financial information. For example, the Internal Revenue Service requires bookkeepers to report payroll information and company revenues or losses. You don't want unsupported withdrawals, deposits or payments to compromise your integrity. Keep up with current bookkeeping requirements, trends and services so your character and professionalism are above reproof. Read IRS news releases and updated company policies, so you can flawlessly report sick leave, holiday pay, standard payroll, payments received and invoices to vendors.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.