In Australia, GST is an abbreviation for Goods and Services Tax and if you want to register for GST in Australia, you can do that by phone or through your registered tax or BAS agent when you first register your business or at any later time. This is called ‘standard GST’ registration.

Please note that GST applies to sales that are connected with Australia, whether they are goods, property or other things. Sales that are connected with Australia extend to sales of low value imported goods and sales of imported services and digital products made for Australian consumers. Interestingly, you only need to register for GST once, even if you operate more than one business.

When to Register for GST?

Please note that you would need to register within 21 days of your GST turnover exceeding the relevant threshold. So, if you are not registered for GST, check each month to see if you have reached the threshold, or are likely to exceed it. Please note that you must register for GST in Australia:

  1. When your business or enterprise has a GST turnover (gross income minus GST) of $75,000 or more (see Working out your GST turnover)
  2. When you start a new business and expect your turnover to reach the GST threshold (or more) in the first year of operation
  3. If you’re already in business and have reached the GST threshold
  4. If your non-profit organization has a GST turnover of $150,000 per year or more
  5. When you provide taxi or limousine travel for passengers (including ride-sourcing) regardless of your GST turnover – this applies to both owner drivers and if you lease or rent a taxi
  6. If you want to claim fuel tax credits for your business or enterprise.

It is important to state that registering for GST in Australia is optional if your business or enterprise does not fit into one of these categories. If you choose to register, generally you must stay registered for at least 12 months.

How to Register For GST

Before you register for standard GST, you need to have an Australian business number (ABN). You can get an ABN when you first register your business name or at a later time. Secondly, once you have an ABN, you can register for GST:

  • Via the Business Portal
  • By phone on 13 28 66
  • Through your registered tax agent or BAS agent
  • By completing the Add a new business account (NAT 2954) form. You can order one of these forms using our online publication ordering service.

The Australia government will notify you in writing of your GST registration details, including the date your registration is effective (and your ABN details, if you haven’t already received them).

The Consequence of Not Registering for GST

If you don’t register for GST and you are required to, you may have to pay GST on sales made since the date you were required to register. This could happen even if you didn’t include GST in the price of those sales. You may also have to pay penalties and interest.

How to Backdate Your GST Registration

You can apply to backdate your GST registration. For tax periods commencing on or after 1 July 2012, backdating a GST registration is limited to four years. This means, unless there is fraud or evasion:

  • The government can’t backdate your GST registration by more than four years
  • You are not required to be registered before that date.

Working out your GST turnover

Your GST turnover is your total business income (not your profit), minus any:

  • GST included in sales to your customers
  • sales that aren’t for payment and aren’t taxable
  • sales not connected with an enterprise you run
  • input-taxed sales you make
  • sales not connected with Australia.

GST Turnover Threshold

You reach the GST turnover threshold if either:

  • your ‘current GST turnover’ (your turnover for the current month and the previous 11 months) totals $75,000 or more ($150,000 or more for non-profit organizations)
  • your ‘projected GST turnover’ (your total turnover for the current month and the next 11 months) is likely to be $75,000 or more ($150,000 or more for non-profit organizations).

Using a business software package to account for sales and expenses may make this easier.

When working out your projected GST turnover, don’t include:

  • amounts you receive for the sale of a business asset (such as the sale of a capital asset)
  • any sale you make, or are likely to make, solely as a consequence of ceasing to carry on an enterprise or substantially and permanently reducing the size or scale of an enterprise.

Even if your current GST turnover is at, or above, the GST turnover threshold you don’t have to register for GST if your projected GST turnover will be below the threshold.

GST for Non-Residents

If you are a non-resident there are different proof-of-identity requirements that may apply to you. Depending on your business activities, you may need to register for either:

Standard GST Registration – for Businesses that

  • have an ABN
  • make supplies connected with Australia
  • issue tax invoices
  • want to claim GST credits

Standard GST Registration Process

Standard GST registration is for businesses that have an Australian business number (ABN), make supplies connected with Australia, issue tax invoices, and want to claim GST credits. You will need to meet proof of identity requirements if you choose this option.

To register for standard GST registration, you first need to apply for an ABN. You can apply for an ABN and GST registration at the same time. If you are running a business in Australia or make supplies connected with Australia, you are entitled to an ABN.

The ABN is a unique 11-digit identifier used to identify you. To meet Australia’s tax invoice requirements, when you issue a valid tax invoice, it must contain your ABN. If you are a non-resident you need to provide additional documentation and proof of identity when you apply for an ABN. As a result, the process of registering for GST with an ABN, via standard GST registration, may take some time.

How to Register for Standard GST

You can register for standard GST online, using a form, by phone or through your registered tax agent.

Simplified GST Registration – where you

  • provide services and digital products to Australian consumers from outside Australia
  • import goods valued at A$1,000 or less (low value goods) into Australia.

Simplified GST is for non-residents who are eligible and want to electronically register, report and pay quickly and easily. Please note that you can’t claim any GST credits under this registration.

Register for simplified GST

To register, you need to:

  • Create an AUSid account – sign up and create a password to securely access Online services for non-residents.
  • Register for simplified GST – create an account on Online services for non-residentsExternal Link.using your AUSid and password.

Access your simplified GST account

To access your account:

  • Select Login on the ato.gov.au homepage
  • At the Login as dropdown menu select Non-resident and select Login or press Enter
  • Enter your AUSid username
  • Follow instructions to open AUSid to accept the authentication request
  • Enter your AUSid password.

Once you have registered for simplified GST, we will send you an ATO reference number (ARN). We use this unique 12-digit identifier to identify you in our systems. We may also use it as an identifier on invoices.

They will also send you a payment reference number (PRN) to identify your GST payments.

  • Add authorized contacts
  • Adding an authorized contact allows that person to make enquiries on behalf of your business.
  • Each authorized contact who is given online access needs a separate AUSid.
  • Each AUSid holder will need to individually install their AUSid on their own computer prior to logging on.

You can have up to 20 authorized contacts for each account and we recommend that you have multiple contacts. To add new authorized contacts:

  • Select Login on the ato.gov.au homepage
  • At the Login as dropdown menu select Non-resident and select Login or press Enter
  • Enter your AUSid and keep the AUSid screen open when accessing Online services for non-residents
  • Go to Manage details
  • Scroll down to Authorized contacts and select Add new authorized contacts
  • Check the declaration box and select Save.
  • Giving authorized contacts access to your simplified GST account
  • To give authorized contacts access to your account:
  • Scroll down to Access to a simplified GST account and select Add
  • Answer the question Does the new user have an AUSid? If you select No, the system won’t generate an authorization code.
  • Check the declaration box and Generate an authorization code
  • Provide the new user with their unique authorization code – the authorization code is only valid for four hours.

If you have more than one ARN, you need to generate separate authorization codes for each ARN and each individual contact.

Linking AUSid and simplified GST accounts

The new authorized contact should link their AUSid to your simplified GST account by:

  • Select Login on the ato.gov.au homepage
  • At the Login as dropdown menu select Non-resident and select Login or press Enter
  • select Enter Authorization code under the Login button
  • Login with your AUSid details and select Continue
  • Enter your authorization code and select Continue.
  • Removing an authorized contact
  • To remove an authorized contact:
  • Select Login on the ato.gov.au homepage
  • At the Login as dropdown menu select Non-resident and select Login or press Enter
  • Login with your AUSid
  • Go to the Manage details tab
  • Scroll down to Authorized contacts and select Remove the contact
  • Check the declaration box and select Save.

GST Groups and Branches

In Australia, related entities may form a single group for GST purposes. An entity may separately register a branch for GST purposes if this suits its management and accounting structure. If you are a member of a GST group, your turnover includes the turnover of the other group members. It doesn’t include transactions between group members.

In Conclusion;

You may not need to register for GST if the only sales you make are made through an online marketplace or electronic distribution platform. Even if you are not required to register for GST, you can choose to register for GST if you are running an enterprise. If you choose to register, you should stay registered for 12 months.

Ajaero Tony Martins