• I often buy second-hand goods for use in my business and business premises, what do I need to do?

    If you are buying goods from a second-hand dealer, they must provide you with an ABN.

    If you are buying goods from a garage sale and it is obvious that the sellers are not carrying on an enterprise, you are not required to get a statement from them but you should note the circumstances of the purchase in your records.

    If I order supplies over the internet, what do I have to do?

    If the supplier is based in Australia, you will need their ABN, otherwise you will have to withhold. If they have displayed their ABN on their website, you can record it and keep it with the record of the transaction.

    If the supplier is not carrying on an enterprise in Australia (does not have a permanent establishment in Australia), they will not need to quote an ABN and you will not need to withhold from payments you make to them.

    If the supplier has not provided an ABN and the URL does not identify the supplier as having an Australian connection, and there is no other information reasonably available to the payer to lead them to believe that the supplier may have a permanent establishment in Australia (for example, retail outlets in Australia, or an Australian address, phone number), the payer will not need to withhold and should retain a record of the reason for not withholding.

    My company is part of a corporate group – do we have to get an ABN every time we pay another group member for supplies?

    As long as every member of the group keeps a register of the ABN of all the other members that supply it and is able to link each transaction to the correct ABN, you do not have to quote the ABN with each transaction.

    Am I responsible for ensuring that a supplier's quoted ABN is correct?

    In general, if the ABN quotation looks reasonable, you can accept it.

    However, if you have reason to suspect that it might not be genuine or that it does not belong to the supplier who quoted it, you should check it out. Things that may alert you include:

    • an incorrect number  
      • an ABN has 11 digits
      • there are no letters and the first digit will never be zero
      • branches of entities will have an additional three digit GST or PAYG registration number that is a separate identification number for tax purposes
    • sequential numbers, repeating numbers or unusual number patterns – you can check the mathematical validity of the number by referring to the ABN Lookup toolExternal Link.
    • if the invoice details do not match the details of the person you believed was supplying you or the type of supplies you are receiving.

    You can check an ABN by using the Australian Business Register at abr.gov.auExternal Link. The register provides details of the names and addresses of suppliers holding valid ABNs.

    If the ABN quoted on the invoice is not valid or the details do not match the supplier, you must withhold 49% of the payment.

    My supplier has provided a different ABN from one on a previous invoice, what should I do?

    Check with the supplier who may have several different enterprises and has accidentally quoted the wrong ABN. Check the validity of the ABN with the Australian Business Register.

    If the ABN does not belong to the supplier, you must withhold 49% of the payment.

    See also:

      Last modified: 15 Feb 2016QC 16444