• Documents quoting supplier's ABN

    Suppliers with an ABN should quote it to you to avoid having tax withheld from payments.

    They can provide you with invoices but other electronic or paper documents that quote an ABN and relate to the supply are acceptable.

    You can also record a supplier's ABN if it is displayed on their website and keep it with your record of the transaction.

    On this page:

    Phone orders

    If you order supplies by credit card over the phone, before placing the order ask the supplier for their ABN. If they don't have an ABN, do not authorise the supplier to charge the whole amount to your credit card as you will need to withhold tax from the payment.

    Internet orders

    If the supplier:

    • is based in Australia, you will need their ABN, otherwise you will have to withhold
    • is not carrying on an enterprise in Australia, they will not need to quote an ABN and you will not need to withhold from payments you make to them
    • hasn't provided an ABN, the website URL doesn't identify the supplier as having an Australian connection, and there is no other information reasonably available to you to show that the supplier may have a permanent establishment in Australia (for example, retail outlets in Australia, or an Australian address, phone number), you will not need to withhold. You should retain a record of the reason for not withholding.

    See also:

    Overseas order

    Foreign resident suppliers generally do not need to provide you with an ABN unless they are carrying on an enterprise in Australia which includes an agent or a branch office in Australia.

    Example

    John orders goods for his business from an overseas business. The supplier does not need an ABN and John does not need to withhold. John may need to pay GST and customs duty when the goods are imported into Australia.

    John also orders goods for his business from a different overseas business. The goods are delivered and John is invoiced by their agent in Australia. If the agent does not quote their ABN on the invoice or any other document, John will need to withhold.

    End of example

    Regular suppliers

    Regular suppliers can periodically quote their ABN to you to cover all the supplies they make to your business for a specified period, such as a financial year.

    You must keep records that can verify the supplier, the supplier's ABN and the payments made in relation to the supplies.

    At least once a year, you should check that the ABN quotation is correct and up to date.

    If a regular supplier provides you with an ABN that is different from one previously quoted, check with the supplier – they may have accidentally quoted the wrong ABN. Alternatively, you can check the ABN's validity.

    Corporate group

    If you are part of a corporate group, you don't have to get or quote an ABN every time you pay or charge 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
    • is able to link each transaction to the correct ABN.

    See also:

    Last modified: 05 Apr 2017QC 51681