GST debt

We take a balanced and differentiated approach to collecting GST debt and will assist businesses who are willing to work with us. If you cannot pay your tax debt on time, contact us immediately on 13 11 42 to discuss your circumstances.


If you cannot pay your tax debt on time, contact us immediately on 13 11 42, to discuss your circumstances.

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To ensure that we maintain a level playing field for all taxpayers, we detect those who are seeking an unfair advantage by not paying their GST liabilities. In particular, we are focusing on ageing debts and phoenix activity.

If you are unable to make, or miss, a GST payment and do not contact us to advise of the missed payment, we will phone you or send a reminder notice soon after the due date. In some cases, we may also refer your debt to an external collection agency.

We take firmer action, such as issuing garnishee notices and statutory demands, against those who are unwilling to work with us and are continually defaulting on arrangements or unable to pay and don't take steps to resolve their situation.

If you have previously defaulted on a payment arrangement, we may impose more stringent requirements before agreeing to a new arrangement. For example, we may ask for an upfront payment or request that payments are made by direct debit.

Where there are concerns about the viability of your business, these will be discussed with you directly. Our assessment of business viability looks at the ability of your business to pay its outstanding debts and meet its ongoing commitments.

Managing your business's GST payment obligations

Businesses are more likely to fall into debt if they:

  • do not keep their GST and income tax payments separate from their other finances
  • have difficulty managing their cash flow and cannot predict monthly income and expenses
  • do not update their business records frequently.

Most people know when they are about to miss a tax payment. If you miss a payment, you should contact us as soon as possible. It is important that you lodge your activity statements and tax returns on time, even if you are unable to pay by the due date.

We offer a range of services and tools to help your business avoid falling into debt. We have a dedicated hardship team to assist businesses during serious financial difficulty or hardship.

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Registered tax and BAS agents

If you have a client who owes tax, or is finding it hard to pay on time, it is important to contact us early. Where possible, we will work with them to resolve the problem.

It is also important that your client lodges on time, even if they are unable to pay by the due date. The general interest charge (GIC) for late payments continues to accrue until all tax and GIC is paid in full.

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Case study

All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictional

Example: Financial difficulty leads to outstanding debt

Phil, a self-employed carpenter, went through a quiet period during which he found it difficult to get work. He continued to submit his activity statements but decided to stop paying his goods and services tax (GST) obligations.

After receiving a notice about his outstanding tax debt, Phil phoned us and negotiated an arrangement to pay the debt by instalments. The taxation officer explained the conditions of the arrangement, including the need to continue meeting his ongoing GST lodgment and payment obligations.

Two months later, Phil received a phone call from us advising that his payment arrangement had defaulted. Although he had been paying the agreed instalments, Phil had failed to pay one of his ongoing activity statement liabilities by the due date. He explained this was due to continued cash-flow problems.

After obtaining financial information from Phil that demonstrated the viability of his business, we agreed to a new payment arrangement with instalments to be paid by direct debit.


If you are having difficulty paying or cannot pay your tax debt on time, contact us as early as possible on 13 11 42 to discuss your circumstances. It's important you continue to lodge your activity statements even if you can't pay on time.

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    Last modified: 17 Feb 2015QC 23695