GST Registration

Registration for Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Australia is not mandatory for all businesses or enterprises. However, failing to register when required can lead to penalties.
The following information outlines the circumstances under which GST registration is necessary and the associated requirements. The specifics regarding GST registration are outlined in the GST Act.

GST turnover threshold
You must register for GST when your business or enterprise reaches or exceeds a GST turnover of $75,000 or more. The GST turnover refers to the gross income from all businesses minus the GST.

New Business Expecting to Reach Threshold
If you are starting a new business and anticipate that your turnover will reach the GST threshold (or more) within the first year of operation, you must register for GST.

Existing Business Reaching Threshold
If you are already in business and your turnover has reached the GST threshold of $75,000 or more, you must register for GST.

Non-Profit Organization
GST registration is mandatory for non-profit organizations if the annual GST turnover amounts to $150,000 or more.

Taxi or Limousine Services
Regardless of your GST turnover, you must register for GST if you provide taxi or limousine travel services (including ride-sourcing), both as an owner-driver or through leasing or renting a taxi. 

Fuel Tax Credits
If you wish to claim fuel tax credits for your business or enterprise, you must register for GST. Thus, the registration for GST is optional for businesses or enterprises that do not fall under any of the above categories.
However, if you choose to register, you generally must remain registered for at least 12 months.

If you are not registered for GST, it is important to monitor your monthly turnover to determine whether you have reached or are likely to exceed the threshold. If your GST turnover surpasses the relevant threshold, you must register within 21 days.

Calculating your GST turnover

Your GST turnover is your total business income less:

  • GST included in sales to your customers
  • sales to associates 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 organisations)
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 organisations).
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 less than the threshold.

Non Resident GST registration

The registration requirements for GST are quite similar for Non Resident entities and residents regarding the GST turnover threshold. The GST turnover for Non Residents includes the total value of imported services, digital products sold to Australian consumers, and low-value imported goods sold to consumers.

International businesses that have sales connected to Australia over a certain threshold may need to register and pay GST in Australia. This applies to electronic distribution platform (EDP) operators that allow merchants to make sales of services, digital products or low value goods to Australian customers; merchants who sell services, digital products, and/or low value goods to consumers in Australia; and redeliverers that bring low value goods to Australia on behalf of a consumer.

Under GST, low value goods are generally goods with a customs value (ie price the goods are sold for, minus freight and insurance from place of export) of $1,000 or less. It should be noted GST will not apply to some sales such as basic/essential food and beverage items, certain medical services/medical aids and appliances, certain education courses and materials, as well as certain cars and car parts for eligible people.

If you’re a relevant merchant, EDP, or redeliverer, and the value of sales connected to Australia over a 12-month period is equal to or more than AUD$75,000, you will be required to register for GST. The business will also be required to charge GST by including it in the price when selling the product or services to consumers in Australia. The GST collected from the sales will need to be reported to the ATO through the lodgment of a GST return of a business activity statement (BAS), and the amount of GST collected will need to be remitted to the ATO in Australian dollars.

For most merchants, EDPs and redeliverers, simplified GST registration will be the easiest way to meet their GST obligations in Australia. This can be used where an ABN is not needed by the non-resident businesses, and it also does not need to claim GST credits (including credits for taxable importations). Additional requirements include making sales of low value goods or imported services and digital products.

Once registered, non-resident businesses will receive secure access to ATO online services for non-residents which will allow registration, lodgment and payment of GST obligations. Once registration is completed, a unique 12-digit identifier, an Australian Reference Number (ARN), will be sent to the relevant non-resident business to use as an identifier for the ATO system and on invoices and customs documentation if required.

Under simplified registration, non-resident businesses must lodge GST returns and pay GST on a quarterly basis. According to the ATO, when paying a GST liability, non-resident businesses must pay the full GST amount owing and any card payment fees, bank handling and exchange fees using either SWIFT or a credit/debit card.

Non-resident businesses that don’t qualify for the simplified registration may have to apply for standard registration where registration thresholds are reached. It also applies where a non-resident business wants to issue tax invoices or want to claim GST credits which can’t be done under the simplified GST registration. However, the drawback with standard registration is that non-resident businesses will not be able to lodge electronically from outside of Australia and may need to engage an Australian registered tax agent. Additional ABN and proof of identity requirements also apply.

How to register for GST

Once you have an ABN, you can register for GST:

  • via ATO Online services for business or by phoning the ATO on 13 28 66
  • through a registered tax agent, tax accountant or BAS agent

This article is general information only and does not provide advice to address your personal circumstances. To make an informed decision you should contact an appropriately qualified professional.