Do I really need an ABN? Yes, you do!

For some performers music is a paid career and for others it’s a fun hobby.

What if your fun and passionate hobby leads to the odd paid gig at the local pub and you’re asked to provide an invoice so you can get paid?

You then have to trawl the ATO website (not a fun experience!) and you realise you need to get an ABN to whack on that invoice otherwise the person paying you will need to withhold a heap of tax (currently a whopping 49%).

If you are starting a business, not just a hobby, then you need to treat it seriously. It isn’t just all about the fun stuff.

There a few business things you will need to consider.

Firstly, I would encourage anyone starting out, even a very small business, to register for an ABN.

An ABN is essentially a Tax File Number for your business.  It allows other businesses and the Government to identify your business.

It’s free, easy, and gives your business legitimacy.   And you can’t get an Aussie domain name without one.

The Australian Government website says:

An ABN is not compulsory, but it does allow you to:

  • avoid Pay as You Go (PAYG) tax on payments you receive
  • claim Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits
  • confirm your business identity to others when ordering and invoicing
  • claim energy grants credits
  • facilitate a single Business Activity Statement (BAS), and
  • obtain an Australian domain name (”

Your ABN doesn’t have to be linked to just one business, either. If you register as a sole trader, you can use the same ABN for multiple enterprises.

And once you do have your ABN, don’t forget to put it on your business stationery, especially your invoices!

Do I also need to register a Business Name?

Yes. You need to register a business name, unless you’re trading under your own name.

This isn’t free, but it’s pretty inexpensive ($34 for one year or $80 for three years).

Do I need to register for GST?

You must register for GST if you run a business or enterprise and your GST turnover is $75,000 or more.  GST turnover is basically just your gross income – from Australian and overseas sources.

If you’re just starting out, I can say with 99% certainty that you won’t need to register for GST – unless of course you’ve come up with the equivalent of the iphone or some other cool electronic gadget!

But if your earnings do exceed $75,000 in your first year then congratulations – you must crack on and register for GST now.

We all cringe at the thought of more bureaucratic paperwork, but you’ll be happier when you know you’re doing things properly, and legally.  And I am here to help you navigate that bureaucracy if you need assistance.

Everyone’s situation is different, so if you’d like to know how any of the above applies to you, an ABN, a Business Name, or GST, then please get in touch with me today.

We’d be delighted to help you with a complimentary 30 minute phone session. Be strategic with your creative industry business and give us a call now. I’d love to speak with you.



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NSW 1475 Australia

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Sydney, Australia
PO Box 425, Marrickville
NSW 1475 Australia

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