1. Check the tax return requirements for your business type

Your business needs to lodge a tax return each year, even if you record a loss or don't meet the tax threshold. When lodging your return, make sure you know the rules that apply to your business structure:

  • Sole trader - Lodge an individual tax return. Include all your business income on your tax return using a separate business schedule. You don’t need to lodge a separate tax return for your business.
  • Partnership – Your partnership has its own tax file number (TFN) but doesn't pay income tax on the profit it earns. Each partner reports their share of the partnership income in their own tax return. Your partnership must also lodge a separate partnership return under its own TFN.
  • Company – A company is a separate legal entity. You must lodge a company tax return and pay tax on the company’s income. If you’re a director, you’ll still need to lodge your own personal return as well.
  • Trust – A trust has its own TFN and must lodge a trust income tax return.

If you run a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation, you may be eligible for tax concessions. Read a summary of tax concessions for NFP organisations on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

2. Understand business activity statements requirements

When you register for an Australian business number (ABN) and GST, the ATO will automatically send you a business activity statement (BAS) when it is time to lodge. Your BAS allows you to report and pay for certain taxes including:

You have several options for lodging your BAS however most businesses that lodge their own BAS choose an online option.

Single Touch Payroll

If you have employees,  you need to report tax and superannuation information to the ATO using Single Touch Payroll (STP). With STP-enabled software, you report your payroll information each time you pay your employees. STP reporting has been expanded – this is known as STP Phase 2.

3. Find out when you need to lodge by

Unless you lodge through a registered tax agent, tax returns are due by 31 October for:

  • sole traders
  • partnerships
  • trusts.

Company returns for self-preparers are generally due by 28 February. If you lodge through a registered tax agent, they’ll tell you when they will lodge your tax return.

BAS due dates are different – they can be quarterly or monthly.

4. Lodge your tax return or BAS

Depending on how complex your business and taxes are, you may lodge your own return or get a professional to lodge it for you.

You can lodge your tax return:

  • with a registered tax agent
  • online with myTax if you're a sole trader
  • with standard business reporting enabled software if you're a company, trust or partnership
  • by paper.

You can lodge your BAS:

  • through a registered tax or BAS agent
  • online (online services in myGov, online services for business or SBR-enabled software)
  • by phone (for nil BAS statements only)
  • by mail.

If you use a tax or BAS agent, make sure they’re registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). To check if they’re registered, search for them in the TPB register.

5. Pay your taxes

The ATO has a range of self-service tools and online services to help you manage your tax.

You can pay with BPAY or a credit/debit card.

If you’re worried you won’t be able to lodge or pay on time, contact the ATO for guidance. The ATO is able to provide information that may help you manage your tax.

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