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Before you start a business

Tax, super and registration obligations you need to consider before you start a business.

Last updated 20 November 2022

Are you in business?

Before you register for an Australian business number (ABN), it is important you determine if you are in business and when your business starts.

Knowing if you're in business helps you know what records you need to keep, and what obligations you have.

What to consider before starting a business

Understanding the road ahead and doing your research and planning is critical for your success.

The Guide to starting a businessExternal Link on helps you navigate these steps.

It's also important to:

Getting up and running

Registrations and insurance

Once you have started a business, you need to meet specific business obligations. This includes any required registrations or business insuranceExternal Link.

You may need an Australian business numberExternal Link (ABN). This unique 11-digit number identifies your business or organisation to the government and community. An ABN has its own set of obligations.

You may also need to:

You can apply for an ABN and other key business registrations through the Business Registration Service.External Link

You may also need business insurance and licencesExternal Link to protect your business. It's important to understand the licences and permits you need to do certain activities and help protect your business and employees.

Business reporting, income returns and deductions

Income you receive from your business activities is assessable income and must be declared on your income tax return.

A tax return needs to be lodged for each sole trader, partnership, trust and company you are running.

Sole traders need to report all income, including business income, in their individual tax return.

You can claim a business tax deduction for most expenses you incur in carrying on your business, as long as they are directly related to earning your assessable income. If you are registered for GST, you will also need to lodge a business activity statement (BAS).

Engaging with us online

Our online services are quick, easy, tailored and secure. They let you manage most of your reporting and transactions with us at a time that's convenient for you.

You can use:

Hiring workers

If you're thinking of hiring a worker, it's important to understand your tax and super obligations as an employer.

Before you hire your first worker you need to:

Setting yourself up for success

Businesses that are operating well and meet their obligations usually have the same things in common.


With accurate record keeping and digital tools, it's easier to track, monitor and make improvements to your cash flow. It also makes it easier to report to the ATO and make payments.

Cash flow management

Managing your business cash flow and knowing the amount of money that goes in and out of your business – that is, income and expenses – allows you to make better business decisions.

It also makes it easier for your business to pay bills and other costs and meet your tax, GST, superannuation and employer obligations.

In your first year of business, you can meet your obligations by:

For help with understanding how to manage your business cash flow:

Record keeping

As a business, for tax purposes you must keep detailed records for all transactions related to your tax, GST and superannuation affairs as you start, run, sell, change or close your business.

Keeping accurate and complete records for all your business transactions will also help you manage your business and its cash flow.

Business banking

Understanding your business banking obligations is important. Different business structures have their own record keeping requirements.

  • If you're operating as a partnership, company or trust, you must have a separate bank account for tax purposes.
  • If you're operating as a sole trader, you do not have to open a separate business bank account, but it's a great idea to do so and will save you time when working out what transactions are personal and business.

Further information about organising your financesExternal Link can be found on


The right digital tools will help you perform daily business activities and meet your tax, GST and super obligations. They also make it easy for you to engage with us when it is convenient to you.

Small businesses can use:

  • Online services for individuals and sole traders
  • Online services for business
  • the ATO app – to access and manage your tax and super on the go
  • eInvoicing – a fast, easy and secure way to automatically send and receive invoices through your software
  • digital record keeping software systems – to track your income and expenses from the start of your business
  • electronic payment systems – if you are making sales in your business, you will need to select a payment system. Your customers then pay for your goods or services electronically, making it easier for you to reconcile your expenses, including  
    • tap-and-go (contactless) payments
    • credit and debit cards
    • EFTPOS
    • online payments
    • smart phone and tablet card processing.

Any payment software you use must not have any payment suppression tools.

Support for your business

The ATO is here to help you on your business journey. We offer a range of learning resources, tools and services to support your business.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other languages

In addition to our range of tools and services, we have information:

  • on Tax for businesses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • in languages other than English (including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi and Vietnamese) to help people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds understand tax and super in Australia.

If you would like to speak to us, you can also:

  • phone our Indigenous Helpline on 13 10 30
  • phone the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50 if you would like to talk to us in your language.