Payroll reporting

If your business employs staff, payments such as salaries, wages, pay as you go (PAYG) withholding and superannuation need to be reported to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) via Single Touch Payroll (STP).

STP reporting take places as these payments happen via your preferred online payroll solution and helps reduces your reporting requirements at the end of the financial year.

Visit the ATO website to find out more about STP reporting requirements.

Monthly or quarterly business activity and instalment activity statements

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) requires businesses to submit a business activity statement (BAS) monthly, quarterly or annually (annual GST return, if eligible).

It is used to report and pay goods and services tax (GST), pay as you go (PAYG) instalments, PAYG withholding tax and other tax obligations.

When you register for an Australian business number (ABN) and GST, the ATO will automatically send you a BAS when it is time to lodge. All businesses registered for GST must lodge a BAS before the due date.

An instalment activity statement (IAS) is similar to the BAS but without GST and some other taxes. Businesses that are not registered for GST would submit an IAS to pay PAYG instalments.

Financial year reporting

In Australia, the financial year for tax purposes runs from 1 July to 30 June.

Businesses are required to lodge an income tax return for this period. If you operate your business as a sole trader you can declare your business income as part of your personal income tax return.

Record keeping

As a business owner you are legally required to keep records for a period of at least five years after they are prepared, obtained or the transactions completed (whichever occurs last). Keeping good records of your transactions and tax invoices will help you to monitor the financial performance of your business as well as comply with your tax obligations.

Records must be in English and in a format accessible to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). You can incur penalties if you do not keep the right tax records.

Your obligations to keep records continue even after you sell or close your business.

The ATO has developed a record keeping evaluation tool to help you find out what records you need to keep for your business.

Business records you need to keep

Income tax records including:

  • income and sales – sales invoices, receipts, cash register tapes and cash sales
  • purchase and expense – tax invoices, cheque book records, and receipts
  • year-end records – list of debtors and creditors, stocktake sheets and depreciation schedules
  • bank records – bank statements and loan records
  • goods and services (GST) – tax invoices from suppliers.

We recommend downloading the booklet on How to set out tax invoices and invoices from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Staff or employee records including:

  • tax file number (TFN) and withholding declarations
  • records of wages, allowances and other payments
  • superannuation records
  • fringe benefit tax (FBT) details.

The ATO has a record keeping evaluation tool detailing the exact records you need to keep.

Tax assistance for business owners

The ATO offers a range of free services including workshops and webinars to help you understand and comply with your tax obligations.

You can register for these services online or by phoning the ATO on 13 28 66 (during office hours).

You can also get a registered tax or BAS agent to help you. Registered agents are qualified and experienced with tax and can legally charge you a fee.

Action to take

Read our guide: Choosing an accountant

More information

Visit the ATO website to find out more about:

You can also do free short courses in record keeping and more in the ATO's online learning platform essentials to strengthen your small business.

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