Australian GST: A Beginner Guide


When running a business in Australia, understanding the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is essential for accurate taxation and smart financial management. GST is a comprehensive tax imposed on the majority of merchandise, services, and other items purchased or consumed within Australia. GST is a complex tax system; therefore, it is essential to learn how it works to reduce the risks of non-compliance and penalties.

What is GST, and how does Australian GST work?

GST, or Goods and Services Tax, is a broad-based tax charged on most goods, services, and other items sold or consumed in Australia. The Australian Government introduced GST on July 1, 2000, as part of a comprehensive tax reform to strengthen the Australian economy.

In essence, GST is a tax that adds value, imposed at a standard rate of 10% on most transactions involving goods and services in Australia. Businesses gather This tax from customers, which remit it to the government. In practice, businesses collect GST on the sales they make while simultaneously being able to claim credits for the GST paid on business-related purchases via input tax credits.


GST Registration

Your business may need to register for GST if:

  • Your company’s annual GST turnover, calculated as gross income less GST, is projected or currently $75,000 or more; this tax is applicable to you.
  • You provide taxi or ride-sharing services, regardless of your GST turnover.
  • Furthermore, if you operate a non-profit entity and your annual GST turnover exceeds $150,000, you are also subject to this tax.

To register for GST, you can make use of the online platform provided by the Australian Business Register (ABR). Be sure your Australian Business Number (ABN) is active before registering for GST. Most businesses use the Australian Tax Office (ATO) online services portal. Registered businesses should then include GST in their price and consistently issue tax invoices to customers.

GST Calculation and Issuance of Tax Invoices

The current GST rate in Australia is 10%. Therefore, if a taxable product or service costs $100, the GST charged will be $10. To calculate the GST component of a product, you need to multiply the GST rate (10%) by the product’s price. For example, for a product priced at $300, the GST component will be $30. Remember, some prices are quoted as a GST-exclusive amount, while others already include GST. Additionally, businesses need to keep track of the GST paid on business expenses to claim GST credits on their BAS.

Tax Invoice

A GST invoice is a crucial document for businesses registered for GST in Australia. Essentially, it is a record of a transaction between a buyer and a seller. When a taxable sale of more than $82.50 (including GST) is made, the seller must provide a tax invoice to the buyer. This invoice serves as proof of purchase and is necessary for the buyer to claim a credit for the GST in the price of the goods or services purchased.

A GST invoice must include specific information such as the words ‘tax invoice’, the seller’s identity and Australian Business Number (ABN), the invoice date, a brief description of the items sold, and the GST amount payable. It’s critical to ensure that these invoices are accurate and stored properly, as they are essential for completing Business Activity Statements and for audit purposes.

Further explore:

Taxable, Input Taxed & GST Free Sales

There are three main types of sales in the Australian GST system:

  • Taxable sales: These are sales of goods and services that are subject to GST. Businesses registered for GST can claim credits for the GST paid on their taxable sales.
  • Input-taxed sales: Certain financial services and residential rent are considered input-taxed sales, meaning GST is not charged. However, businesses cannot claim GST credits for any input-taxed sales.
  • GST-free sales: Certain goods and services are classified as GST-free sales, indicating that they are not subject to GST, as previously discussed. Examples include essential food items, health and educational services, and exports.

GST is a tax applied on most of the supplies and services in Australia. Below is a complete table of how GST works in Australia:

Items CategoriesGST Rate
Basic necessaries0%
Fresh Food Items0%
Medical Supplies0%
Exported Goods0%
Standard Rate Items10%
Non-Basic Food Items10%
Restaurant and Dining Services10%
Domestic Air Travel10%
Special Rules/ExemptionsVaried
Precious Metals and GemsGST May Apply
Luxury Cars (Luxury Car Tax)Additional Tax
Residential Property SalesNo GST, but subject to other taxes

BAS & GST Returns

Businesses that are required to pay GST need to submit the Business Activity Statement (BAS). This document, which is submitted to the Australian Taxation Office, allows businesses to report their GST obligations and make the necessary payments. The reporting period for your BAS may be monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on your GST turnover and other factors. These statements help to summarize your GST transactions and are essential for claiming input tax credits. It is crucial to submit your BAS on time to avoid penalties.

Further read:

GST Impact

On a broader scale, GST aids in the country’s economic development by providing a steady revenue source for the government. This revenue is then channeled into public infrastructure, health care, and other vital services contributing to the overall quality of life. Hence, while GST might impose particular challenges, its benefits are significant, making it a substantial pillar of the Australian taxation system.

However, GST might pose challenges for small businesses due to potentially increased administrative burdens. An upfront tax payment also affects cash flow, particularly for service businesses. It’s noteworthy that consumers could also be affected, as the cost of specific goods and services might increase in the short term after GST implementation.

Import and Export under GST in Australia

Importers are generally required to pay GST on goods imported into Australia. However, if the goods are for business purposes and the business is registered for GST, it may claim a credit for any GST paid on the imported goods.

On the other hand, exports from Australia are often GST-free. This includes both goods and services. For goods, they must be exported from Australia within 60 days of the first of the following: the day the payment is received or the day the invoice for the goods is issued. Services are GST-free when the recipient of the service is outside Australia. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, so businesses should ensure they understand all the specific requirements and conditions that apply to their situation.


GST is a 10% comprehensive tax imposed on the majority of merchandise, services, and other items purchased or consumed within Australia

Businesses report and pay GST amounts to the Australian Tax Office, and claim GST credits, through their Business Activity Statement (BAS).

GST is applicable on imported goods, but exports are generally GST-free. However, specific rules apply to these cases.

Your GST turnover is your gross business income, not your net profit. It includes all taxable and GST-free sales but not input-taxed sales.

The current GST rate in Australia is 10%.


It is essential to have a basic understanding of the GST system if you are running a business in Australia. Whether you are starting a new or existing business, knowing the key aspects of GST will help you comply with taxation laws and avoid penalties. To recap, GST is a consumption-based tax that is levied on most goods and services provided in Australia.

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