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Getting started for non-profit organisations
The Australian business number (ABN) is a single identifier used to deal with us and with other government agencies.
A non-profit organisation can use its ABN to:
To be entitled to an ABN, your organisation must be one or more of the following:
An entity for ABN purposes means an individual, a body corporate, a corporation sole, a body politic, a partnership, an unincorporated association or body of persons, a trust or a superannuation fund. Entities can include charities, non-profit clubs and associations.
An enterprise includes an activity or series of activities performed by any of the following:
Your organisation must have an ABN if it is seeking endorsement as one or more of the following:
Your organisation should register for one ABN, regardless of the number of enterprises that you carry on. However, if your organisation also carries on an enterprise in a different entity capacity, you should register for a separate ABN in each entity capacity. For example, both as a non-profit company registered under the Corporations Act and as trustee for a trust. It is the entity, not the enterprise that can register for an ABN.
If your organisation is a subsidiary of a governing body, we advise that you discuss ABN registration with your governing body.
A charity is an entity and has three branches – a drop-in centre, a sheltered workshop and an opportunity shop. It will have only one ABN that covers all these activities, unless it registers one or more of the activities as a non-profit sub-entity for GST purposes.
However, one of the above activities is conducted through a separate trust. The trustee of that trust can apply for an ABN in that capacity.
Charities, DGRs, government schools and certain other non-profit organisations that are registered for GST may choose to register a branch as a non-profit sub-entity. A non-profit sub-entity maintains an independent system of accounting, is separately identifiable by its activities or location, and is referred to in the entity’s records as a separate entity for GST purposes.
For example, units of your organisation that are non-profit sub-entities could include a branch, fete, lamington drive or fundraising dinner. This means that where the unit’s GST turnover is less than $150,000, the unit can choose whether it registers for GST or not. Where the unit has a GST turnover of $150,000 or more, it must register separately for GST purposes and will have the same rights and obligations as other GST registered entities.
ABN registration as a non-profit sub-entity for GST purposes cannot be used by the sub-entity for any other purpose, for example, to apply for endorsement as a DGR.
A school is constituted as a company and also operates a public library. The school has an ABN and the library also applies for an ABN for GST purposes as it meets the requirements of a non-profit sub-entity.
The library cannot apply for endorsement as a DGR in its own right. The school will have to apply for endorsement in relation to the library. The library, however, can use its ABN for GST purposes.
For more information about non-profit sub-entities refer to Tax basics for non-profit organisations.
When an organisation applies for and receives their ABN, the business details from their application are recorded in the Australian Business Register (ABR).
The ABR was designed to reduce red tape for businesses. It allows businesses to update their business information online and then have these changes broadcast to government agencies with a business use and legal right to this information.
This cuts down on time-consuming and repetitive paperwork that businesses interacting with a variety of government agencies may need to complete. You can do an online search for an organisation’s endorsement details at ABN Lookup.
Your organisation can apply for an ABN in any of the following ways:
If your organisation needs to register for GST, FBT or PAYG withholding, it can do so by selecting these options on the ABN application form.
If your organisation already has an ABN and needs to register for GST or other taxes (excluding FBT), you will need to complete our Add a new business account form which is available through online ordering. You can also obtain this form by phoning us on 13 28 66.
Your organisation can register for FBT using the Application to register for fringe benefits tax.
Your organisation’s ABN details are recorded on the Australian Business Register and we use them to deal with your organisation. The register includes information such as your organisation’s postal address, and it also helps us identify your authorised contact people. It is important that the information we hold is accurate and up to date.
As many non-profit organisations elect office bearers for an annual term, their authorised contact people often change from year to year. You need to notify us of any changes to your organisation’s registration details. This helps us to protect your organisation’s privacy and provide office bearers with access to the information they need to perform their duties.
For more information, refer to How do you ensure we can speak to your organisation’s representative? Also, refer to Change of registration details for information on how to update your registration details and the options available.
If your organisation’s circumstances change, you may need to cancel its registration for one or more taxes.
In this case, you will need to complete the form Application to cancel registration to cancel your organisation’s registration for:
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