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The Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique identifier issued by the Australian Business Register (ABR) which is operated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The ABN is a component of the System introduced by John Howard's Liberal government on 1 July 2000.

Australian Business Register[edit]

The Australian Business Register (ABR) is maintained by the Registrar of the ABR, who is also the Commissioner of Taxation.[1] The Registrar registers entities and, in doing so, issues them with an ABN.[2]

Entitlement to an ABN[edit]

The Registrar issues ABNs only to entities who are entitled to an ABN.[3] Entities do not have to be individuals (natural persons) or companies (legal persons). An entity can be –

  • an individual,
  • a body corporate,
  • a corporation sole,
  • a body politic,
  • a partnership,
  • any other unincorporated association or body of persons,
  • a trust, or
  • a superannuation fund.[4]

For an entity to be entitled to an ABN, it must –

  • carry on an enterprise in Australia,[5] or
  • carry on an enterprise that makes supplies connected with Australia,[6] or
  • be a company registered under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).[7]

Whether or not an entity is carrying on an enterprise is a question of fact and there are many circumstances where an entity will be carrying on an enterprise. Without being exhaustive, an entity will be carrying on an enterprise if it –

  • is in the form of a business,
  • leases property,
  • is a religious institution,
  • is a superannuation fund,
  • is an arm of the government, or
  • is a charity.[8]

The Registrar of the ABR can refuse an entity's application to be registered.[9] Equally, the Registrar can cancel an entity's registration and thus their ABN.[10] Both of these decisions are reviewable taxation decisions.

Applying for an ABN[edit]

There are three ways to legally apply for an ABN:[11]

  • through the Australian Business Register portal,
  • using the services of a Registered Tax Agent, or
  • a paper-based application via the ATO.

To apply for an ABN you will need as a prerequisite a tax file number (TFN).[12]

Format of the ABN[edit]

The ABN is an 11-digit number where the first two digits are a checksum. Unlike with the tax file number (TFN), the ATO has publicised the formula for checking and creating valid ABN checksums.[citation needed] Also, the nature of the ABN algorithm means that any 9-digit number can be made into a valid ABN.

In the case of companies, the ATO determines the ABN by using the company's Australian Company Number (ACN) to which the two-digit checksum is prefixed.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Section 28 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  2. ^ Section 11 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  3. ^ Section 8 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  4. ^ Subsection 184-1(1) of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (Cth).
  5. ^ Paragraph 8(1)(a) of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  6. ^ Paragraph 8(1)(b) of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  7. ^ Subsection 8(1) of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  8. ^ Section 9-20 of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (Cth).
  9. ^ Section 13 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  10. ^ Section 18 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-02-07. Retrieved 2015-09-10. 
  12. ^ "Australian Business Number (ABN) - Information Planet Australia". www.informationplanet.com.au. 

External links[edit]

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