When starting a business, if you want to be serious about it, you will need to register your business name, even if making and selling jewellery from home. However, you can’t get one unless you apply for an ABN.
There are so many issues that come with having either one.
Once you buy your business name you will be asked to renew it every year or every three years. Obviously if you’re still running your business you will, if not, don’t bother. They have also made it cheaper. In 2008 I don’t think I paid anything when I applied. In 2011 I was charged $128 for three years. This year I was only charge $78 for three years. What a difference.
Now, with an ABN things could get tough. What it comes down to is you need to show you are using the number and running a business, regardless of what it is.
You need to file tax returns, even if you don’t make any money (which was my issue), such as with selling on a website, to prove to them you are running a business. If you don’t put in your yearly returns, after a few years they will take your ABN off you and send you a letter saying the number was cancelled.
This happened to me and you can read about it here, and here.
The issue was finally fixed in early 2014 when I reapplied for my ABN. It was a little complicated as I had to go through the previous application so I would get the original one reinstalled. It took about half an hour as I didn’t want to make a mistake and finally, it was done.
This year, back in July, I had my tax return done and the woman noticed that I had been to them earlier in the year and she asked what for. I told her I had to put in four years worth of tax returns to show the ATO (Australian Tax Department) that I had been running a business. She said it was rubbish, as I didn’t need to since I didn’t make much.
I told her I had to because the ATO had taken my ABN off me and the only way to keep it was to do tax returns. She didn’t agree.
That’s the other problem. Too many people tell you too many things. Even accountants in the same business will tell you something different.
So the basic answer to the question of, how not to lose your ABN, is put in your tax returns. Unless you didn’t apply for the ABN or Business name, then there’s no need to file but they may find out and come after you for back taxes if you make a lot of money.
If you want to do things right then talk to a business expert if you know one, or head to your local library or council to see of they run business classes. It’s important to get all the details beforehand, which in my case I didn’t because I had no one to talk to and ask questions of, and do it right from the beginning, that way, you won’t lose your ABN and have to deal with the garbage of having to get it back.
Or you could run your business as a hobby, but that’s another long story.