Selling goods into Australia

Selling goods into Australia from a treaty country without a physical presence in Australia

In this section we discuss your tax obligations if all of the following apply:

  • you are a resident entity of a country that has a tax treaty with Australia
  • you export goods to Australia without having a physical presence in Australia, such as an agent, subsidiary or permanent establishment
  • you don't employ staff in Australia.

You are selling into Australia without a physical presence if you sell goods over the internet.

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Under these circumstances, you will have the following tax obligations:

  • Income tax - You will not be liable to pay Australian income tax. Income tax only applies if you have an Australian permanent establishment.
  • Capital gains tax (CGT) - You will not be liable to pay Australian CGT. CGT only applies to assets that are taxable Australian assets.
  • Goods and services tax (GST) - You may be liable for GST, which is a broad-based tax of 10% on most goods, services and other items sold or consumed in Australia - refer to Supplying goods and services in Australia - goods and services tax.
  • Australian business number (ABN) - You will need to register for an ABN for certain tax purposes, which may include GST and pay as you go (PAYG) withholding. You generally need to quote an ABN on your invoices or other documents relating to sales you make to other business. If you do not quote an ABN when you supply goods or services to another business, they may have to withhold tax from their payment to you at the rate of 46.5% under the PAYG withholding system.
  • As you won't be employing people in Australia, you won't have any Australian PAYG withholding for employees, superannuation or fringe benefits tax (FBT) obligations.

If you are exporting goods to Australia by selling to an Australian resident entity on a free on board (FOB) basis, this may be considered an importation by the Australian entity. This means you may not have any Australian tax obligations - rather, your Australian customer will have tax obligations relating to the importation.

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    Last modified: 22 Feb 2011QC 18431