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  • Security, investigation or surveillance services

    If you're running a business that provides security, investigation or surveillance services (even if it's only part of the services you provide) you must lodge a Taxable payments annual report (TPAR) for each financial year that you:

    • have an Australian business number (ABN), and
    • make any payments to contractors for security, investigation or surveillance services they provide on your behalf.

    Payments made to employees are not included in your TPAR.

    If your business provides mixed services, not just security, investigation or surveillance services, you may need to lodge a TPAR if the payments you receive for those services make up 10% or more of your total GST turnover.

    You must reassess whether you need to lodge a TPAR each year.

    Your first TPAR for payments made to contractors from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, will be due by 28 August 2020.

    To make it easier to complete your TPAR, you should check the way you currently record information about your payments to contractors.

    On this page:

    See also:

    What are security, investigation or surveillance services?

    You may be considered to be providing:

    • 'security services' – if the services you provide include patrolling, protecting, screening, watching or guarding any people, premises or property, by any means
    • ‘investigation services’ – if the services you provide include searching inquiries by any means into one or more specific individuals or matters, to determine facts or gather evidence. Although the term ‘investigation’ may be broad, in this context it relates specifically to ‘security’ and ‘surveillance’. Investigation services involve more than information gathering. Routine record or police checks or telemarketers conducting surveys are not examples of providing investigation services.
    • ‘surveillance services’ – if the services you provide include watching or observing an area or location and monitoring of security systems. These services may overlap with security services as identified above.

    Examples of security, investigation or surveillance activities include:

    • lock smithing
    • burglary protection
    • alarm monitoring and response
    • armoured car service
    • detective agency service
    • night watch service
    • crowd, event or venue control
    • body guarding or close personal protection
    • operating a security control room or monitoring centre
    • operating security screening equipment (such as prohibited item detectors, x-ray scanners, and explosive trace detection)
    • security guard service.

    Security, investigation and surveillance services don't include:

    • providing police services
    • surveillance of country borders
    • providing aerial surveying or mapping services
    • academic or market research
    • manufacture, retail, installation, maintenance or repair of fire alarm systems
    • manufacture or retail of security, investigative or surveillance devices (such as security alarms or cameras, or voice recorders)
    • providing key cutting/duplication services.

    Businesses providing mixed services

    If security, investigation or surveillance services are only part of the services your business provides, you will need to work out what percentage of the payments you receive are for security, investigation or surveillance services each financial year to determine if you need to lodge a TPAR.

    If the total payments you receive for security, investigation or surveillance services are:

    • 10% or more of your GST turnover – you must lodge a TPAR
    • less than 10% of your GST turnover – you don't need to lodge a TPAR.

    You can choose to lodge a TPAR even if you think you don't need to. For example, if you're not sure if your payments for security, investigation and surveillance services will amount to less than 10% of your GST turnover for the financial year you should ensure you are recording the payments you make to contractors anyway. You can choose to lodge a TPAR even if you're under the 10% threshold.

    To work out if you need to lodge a TPAR, use the following three steps:

    Step 1: Calculate your total payments received for security, investigation or surveillance services

    Add up all the payments your business received for security, investigation or surveillance services during the financial year, regardless of whether an employee or a contractor performed those services on your behalf.

    Don't include payments:

    • you make to contractors for providing these services on your behalf
    • where the security, investigation or surveillance services provided are only ancillary or incidental to the goods or other services your business provided.

    Step 2: Calculate your current or projected GST turnover

    If you have been operating your business for:

    • the full financial year – use your current GST turnover for the year
    • less than 12 months of the financial year – you must use your projected GST turnover by working out what your GST turnover will be for the next full financial year.

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

    • GST you included in sales to your customers
    • sales that are not for payment and are not taxable
    • sales not connected with an enterprise you run
    • input-taxed sales you make
    • sales not connected with Australia.

    Step 3: Calculate what percent of your GST turnover is from security, investigation or surveillance services

    You can calculate this percentage by using the following formula each financial year:

    Total payments received for security, investigation and surveillance services × 100 divided by Current or projected GST turnover

    If 10% or more of your GST turnover for the financial year is from security, investigation and surveillance services and you've also made payments to contractors for those same services during the year, you must lodge a TPAR.

    Examples

    The following examples demonstrate the meaning of 'providing security, investigation or surveillance services' and whether or not a business providing those services needs to lodge a TPAR.

    Example: A business providing alarms and monitoring and response services

    Response Now Pty Ltd has an ABN and provides the following services:

    • sales and installation of security alarms and cameras to entertainment venues
    • alarm monitoring services
    • on-call rapid response teams for significant crowd control situations.

    The provision and installation of security alarms and cameras, alarm monitoring services, and crowd control services are each separate services that are not ancillary or incidental to each other. Response Now must consider whether these three separate services constitute relevant supplies.

    The sale and installation of alarms is not a relevant supply. Just supplying and installing a security device does not amount to providing security or undertaking surveillance or investigation. However, alarm monitoring and crowd control services are a supply of a security, investigation or surveillance service because they involve watching or protecting individuals, premises or property.

    Response Now is therefore required to report payments they make to contractors that provide alarm monitoring or crowd control services on their behalf, which occur on or after 1 July 2019, in a TPAR (unless a reporting exemption applies).

    Response Now is not required to report any payments made to contractors that sell or install the security alarms and cameras on their behalf.

    Example: A business that has been operating for less than 12 months

    Jared and Ismail operate a business, with an ABN, that supplies security services. They hire contractors to provide security services to small businesses on their behalf.

    Jared and Ismail’s business has been operating for 5 months by the end of the 2019–20 financial year. Therefore, they must use the business's projected GST turnover for 2020–21 to calculate the percentage of payments received for relevant services.

    Jared and Ismail project their business’s GST turnover for 2020–21 to be $300,000. The payments their business has received for security services in 2019–20 total $36,000.

    As their payments for relevant services are not less than 10%, a reporting exemption does not apply. Jared and Ismail must report payments their business has made to security contractors in 2019–20.

    End of example

    Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra 

    Last modified: 07 Mar 2019QC 57699