Chapter 2

Registering for GST

Find out if your business needs to register for GST. If so, learn how to do it and find out what happens next.

A business owner registering for GST on a tablet

Who needs to register for GST?

  • Australian based businesses with an annual turnover of $75,000 or more
  • Taxi drivers and ride-sharing drivers no matter what their turnover is
  • Not-for-profit organisations with an annual turnover of $150,000 or more
  • Businesses that want to claim fuel tax credits
  • International retailers with total Australian sales of $75,000 or more a year

You can get into legal difficulty if you don’t register for (and collect) GST when you should.

If your annual turnover is under the threshold, you can voluntarily register for GST. There are benefits of registering your business for GST, but there will also be extra things for you to think about so it’s good to weigh up your options first.

Benefits of registering

Once you’re GST registered, you don’t end up paying GST on business expenses. You’ll still get charged the GST-inclusive price when you make the purchase, but you can claim that money back when you file your return with the ATO.

What do I need to register?

You’ll need an Australian Business Number (ABN). However, if you’re registering as a company, then you’ll need an Australian Company Number (ACN) before applying for your ABN.

Choosing an accounting basis

During the registration process, you may be asked how you will account for GST. This decision determines when you owe GST on sales (and when you can claim GST refunds on expenses). There are three options, but they may not all be available to you.

  • Cash accounting: Some small businesses are able to use cash accounting. Those businesses only owe GST on a sale once the customer has paid them.
  • Accrual basis accounting: Some businesses must use accrual basis accounting. That means they owe GST on a sale as soon as they raise the invoice or when they get paid, whichever comes first.
  • Simpler accounting method: Food retailers can use the simplified accounting method (SAM). Check out this ATO page to see if it’s for you.

Many businesses use cash accounting for GST, but accrual accounting for income tax. That may sound complex but good accounting software makes it easy to move between the two.

How to register for GST

It’s simple to register for GST yourself and it costs nothing.

Registering online

The business portal is the main way for businesses to communicate with the ATO. It’s also where you will submit your business activity statements (BAS). You can also submit your BAS via online accounting software.

Other ways to register

You can:

Once you’re registered for GST

After GST registration you need to:

  • add GST to your prices
  • issue tax invoices to your customers
  • keep receipts and invoices to claim back GST on business expenses
  • submit business activity statements (BAS) to the ATO
  • pay any GST due

Disclaimer: Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the provided content.

Guide to GST & BAS

Making a start with GST and BAS? Don’t worry. It’s a little extra admin, but follow our guide to get on top of it.

Download the guide to GST

Get your small business tax sorted. Fill in your details to get our full GST guide as a PDF.

Start using Xero for free

Access all Xero features for 30 days, then decide which plan best suits your business.

  • Included
    Safe and secure
  • Included
    Cancel any time
  • Included
    24/7 online support