Some taxes apply and are compulsory depending on your business size and type. Others are optional, but can make life easier if you have them.

Here’s a rundown on the business taxes you need to operate your business. 

Operating as a sole trader or company?


Registrations for all businesses


Tax file number (TFN)

(Required)

You must have a TFN regardless of the type of business you're starting. If you plan on running your business as a sole trader, you can keep your individual TFN. If you're operating as a partnership, company or trust, you'll need to register a separate TFN for the business.

Learn how to register for a TFN.

Australian business number (ABN)

(Recommended)

It is not compulsory for businesses to register for an ABN however getting an ABN is free, and makes running your business easier, particularly if you have to register for other taxes. For example, if you need to register for goods and services tax (GST) now or in the future, you'll need to apply for an ABN first.

Without an ABN, other businesses must withhold 47% from payments they make to you for tax purposes.

Find how to apply for an ABN

Australian company number (ACN)

(Required for companies)

If you register your business as a company, you'll be given an ACN by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). You'll need to apply for your ACN before getting an ABN.

Learn how to register a company

If you're operating as a sole trader or partnership and decide that you want to become a company, you'll need to:

  1. make sure you have met any lodgement, reporting and payment obligations you have to government agencies. These include activity statements, tax debts and pay as you go (PAYG) withholding reports
  2. cancel your ABN 
  3. register your business as a company and receive an ACN 
  4. apply for a new ABN

If you buy or sell goods and services


Goods and services tax (GST)

(Required for most businesses)

GST registration is compulsory if:

  • your business or enterprise has a GST turnover of $75,000 or more
  • your non-profit organisation has a GST turnover of $150,000 or more 
  • you provide taxi or limousine travel including ride-sourcing services for a fare.  This applies regardless of your GST turnover
  • you want to claim fuel tax credits for your business, regardless of your GST turnover

If you are a non-resident there are special rules that may apply to you.

Otherwise, registration for GST is optional.

GST applies to most retail sales to Australian consumers of imported:

  • services 
  • digital products (including movies, apps, games and e-books)
  • goods worth A$1000 or less

If your overseas business has a GST turnover of A$75,000 or more from these sales, you must register for GST. You may not need to register for GST if the only sales you make are made through an electronic distribution platform.  

You can find more about tax on retail sales of goods and services into Australia on the ATO website.

Find out how to how to register for GST.

GST and invoices

Once you're registered for GST, any invoices you send to customers will need include the GST amount for each good or service (or state that the total price includes GST). Read more information on payments and invoicing.

If you pay salaries or wages


Pay as you go (PAYG) withholding

(Required)

You must withhold an amount from payments you make to:

  • employees
  • some contractors you have a voluntary agreement with
  • businesses that don't quote their ABN to you

In each case, you must register for PAYG before you can withhold that amount. You must provide the withheld amounts to the ATO, report those amounts regularly on your activity statements, and then lodge a PAYG withholding annual report confirming your total withholding. 

Your requirements may be different for amounts you report and finalise through Single Touch Payroll. Find out more about Single Touch Payroll at the ATO website. 

Learn how to register for PAYG withholding.

Payroll tax

(Required in certain circumstances)

Each state and territory government collects payroll tax on the wages employers pay each month. You’re only liable for payroll tax if your total Australian wages exceed the tax-free threshold in the state or territory that your staff are in. 

Tax-free thresholds vary between states and territories. You must register for payroll tax in each state or territory where you employ staff if your Australian wage bill is above their threshold. 

Example

In financial year 2018 to 2019 QLD and NSW had a 31-day threshold of $91,666 and $76,230 respectively. If you employed staff in QLD and NSW and your total Australian wage bill for 31 days was:

  • $95,000 – you needed to register for payroll tax in both states
  • $75,000 – you only needed to register in NSW

If your total Australian wage bill is under the threshold for your state or territory, you're not liable to pay. Find out the monthly threshold by visiting the revenue office website in your state or territory.

Learn more about payroll tax and how you can register.

Fringe benefits tax (FBT)

(Required in certain circumstances)

Providing perks, or certain benefits, to your employees (including employees’ associates such as a family member) can attract FBT. This includes providing:

  • a car for private purposes
  • goods at a discount
  • low interest loans 
  • Christmas parties
  • reimbursement for private expenses, such as school fees

You should register for FBT as soon as you decide to start providing fringe benefits to your employees.

Read how to register for fringe benefits tax (FBT).

Other taxes


There may be more specific taxes that apply to your business. For information on other taxes, visit our Taxation page.

Superannuation, though not a tax, is a requirement if you employ staff. Find out more information on paying superannuation to your staff.

The Australian Tax Office has further information on:

 

Apply for tax registrations

You can apply for tax registrations and other key business registrations through the Business Registration Service. Before you register, make sure you have:

  • identified your business structure
  • proof of identity
  • details of your business activities and associates ready

Accessing government online services is changing

AUSkey and Manage ABN Connections will retire in March 2020. After this date you will no longer be able to access government online services using an AUSkey. You'll need to:

  • set up myGovID - the Australian Government's digital identity provider and a new way to prove your identity online
  • link it to Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) - an authorisation service that allows you to link your myGovID to an Australian business number (ABN) and manage who can act on behalf of your business online

Go to the ATO website to find out more about the new way to access government online services.