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  • Choosing a SAM

    There are five SAMs you can use to estimate your GST-free sales and purchases:

    • Business norms: Apply standard percentages to your sales and purchases. This is the simplest method but can only be used by specified business types.
    • Stock purchases: Apply the percentage of your GST-free purchases to your GST-free sales.
    • Snapshot: Take a snapshot of your trading and use this sample to estimate your GST-free sales and GST-free purchases.
    • Sales percentage: Work out what percentage of GST-free sales you made in a tax period and apply this to estimate your GST-free purchases.
    • Purchases snapshot: Take a snapshot of your purchases and use this sample to calculate your GST credits. Available to restaurants, cafés and caterers only.

    To use a SAM you must meet the basic eligibility conditions:

    • you are registered for GST
    • you are a retailer who sells both taxable and GST-free food at the same premises (or, for the purchases snapshot method, you buy both taxable and GST-free food)
    • your relevant turnover is not more than $2 million.       

    Which SAM you can choose also depends on:

    • whether you’re a converter or reseller – that is, whether your business converts GST-free goods into taxable goods (such as making sandwiches from GST-free ingredients) or resells the goods GST-free
      • if you’re both, you’re treated as a converter
    • whether you have adequate point-of-sale equipment for distinguishing GST-free and taxable sales.

    If you decide to use a SAM, you must tell us which method you are going to use.

    Eligibility for SAMs

    SAM method

    Nature of business

    Point-of-sale equipment

    Turnover threshold

    Business norms

    Reseller or converter




    SAM turnover of $2 million or less

    Stock purchases

    Reseller only


    Reseller or converter

    Sales percentage

    Reseller, or converter whose conversions are 5% or less of total sales




    GST turnover of $2 million or less

    Purchases snapshot

    Reseller or converter


    Find out about:

    Same premises

    Generally you can use a SAM only if you make both GST-free and taxable food sales from the same location or premises (this doesn't apply to the purchases snapshot method, which is about purchases, not sales). For example, if you run a small sandwich bar selling sandwiches, fruit and drinks, you may have difficulty identifying and recording your GST-free sales, as all sales are made at the same time from one location. You could use a SAM to simplify this process.

    However, a beef cattle producer or farmer who makes taxable sales of livestock and also sells GST-free vegetables from the farm gate would not be eligible to use a SAM. The sales of vegetables would be made at a different time and in a different location from the sales of livestock, so the farmer would be able to identify the GST-free sales at the point of sale.

    Turnover threshold

    Your eligibility to use a SAM depends on you having a:

    • SAM turnover of $2 million or less for the snapshot method, stock purchases method and business norms method
    • GST turnover of $2 million or less for the sales percentage method and purchases snapshot method.

    The turnover threshold applies to the total turnover of your combined activities (as long as both activities are food retailing), not the turnover of each activity.

    If the total turnover of your combined activities is $2 million or less, you can use a SAM for the food retailing parts of your business.

    If the turnover from one of your activities is less than the turnover threshold, but the total turnover of your combined activities is more than $2 million, you cannot use any SAMs. If you meet the turnover threshold requirements when you choose your SAM, you can continue using it for the remaining tax periods in that first 12 months. However, you will not be eligible to use a SAM in tax periods that start after the first 12 months.

    Special rules apply if you are a rural convenience store or pharmacy using the business norms method.

    SAM turnover

    To work out SAM turnover:

    • The threshold amount is GST-exclusive, which means you don't include the GST in your sales when you work out whether your sales are lower than the threshold.
    • You apply the threshold test only to your trading sales, which means you include sales of trading stock and any other trading income but you ignore any sales of capital assets or other supplies you might make solely in ceasing or scaling down your business. Trading income includes things like receipts from services, such as video hire by a video store. Capital assets include things like land and buildings or plant and equipment.
    • You may apply the threshold test to either
      • your trading sales for the last financial year
      • your projected trading sales for the current financial year. If you started your business during the financial year, you can apply the threshold to your projected trading sales for the financial year as if it were a 12-month period.
      • annual tax period (starting on 1 July and finishing on the following 30 June)
      • quarterly tax periods (lasting three months, starting on 1 January, 1 April, 1 July and 1 October in each year)
      • monthly tax periods, starting on the first day of each calendar month.

    GST turnover

    Your GST turnover is your gross business income (not your profit), excluding any:

    • GST included in sales to your customers
    • sales not connected with an enterprise you carry on
    • input taxed sales you make
    • sales not connected with Australia.

    Your GST turnover is over the threshold if either:

    • your turnover for the current month and the previous 11 months is more than $2 million (current GST turnover)
    • your turnover for the current month and the next 11 months is likely to be more than $2 million (projected GST turnover).

    In working out your projected GST turnover, you do not include amounts received for the sale of a business asset or any sale made, or likely to be made, solely as a consequence of ceasing or substantially and permanently reducing the size of the business.

    Nature of your business

    To help you decide which SAM suits your circumstances, you need to work out whether you are either a converter or a reseller.

    If you are both a reseller and a converter (for example, if your business is a snack bar), you are treated as a converter.


    A 'converter' is a food retailer who purchases GST-free goods and converts them into taxable goods, for example, a retailer who buys bread and sandwich ingredients and converts them into sandwiches. If you are both a reseller and a converter (for example, if your business is a snack bar), you are treated as a converter.


    A 'reseller' is a food retailer who buys GST-free goods that are still GST-free when they are resold. In other words, resellers sell GST-free products in an unchanged form. They do not convert them into taxable products.

    Point-of-sale equipment

    Your point-of-sale equipment will be regarded as adequate if it can both:

    • identify and record each separate sale as either GST-free or taxable
    • identify and record separately the amount of your GST-free and total sales.

    A cash register that has a GST-free or taxable key relies on the operator to work out the GST status of each of the goods they sell. This point-of-sale equipment is not considered adequate as it does not identify a product as GST-free or taxable.

    Adequate point-of-sale equipment will generally include:

    • electronic scanning systems
    • touch screen registers
    • product-specific cash registers.

    This kind of equipment can retain and apply information on products, including whether they are taxable or GST-free. If you have this kind of equipment but it cannot separately identify and record your GST-free and total sales, or if your point-of-sale equipment is even less sophisticated, you can use a SAM that does not require adequate point-of-sale equipment (business norms, stock purchases or snapshot methods).

    Once you have installed point-of-sale equipment that you are satisfied accurately identifies and records GST-free sales separately from taxable sales, you are no longer eligible to use the business norms, stock purchases or snapshot methods. You must stop using these methods from the beginning of the tax period after the day you purchased the point-of-sale equipment.

    You may be able to use the sales percentage method or the purchases snapshot method.

    Notifying us

    If you decide to use a SAM, you must tell us which method you are going to use. You also need to let us know if you are going to stop using this method (after 12 months).

    To do this, complete the applicable forms:

    Once you have chosen a SAM, you cannot change methods for 12 months.

    If you stop using a SAM by revoking your choice, you cannot choose to use another method in the first 12 months of revoking your decision.

    Next steps:

      Last modified: 30 May 2017QC 16262