Treasury’s consultation paper ‘Designing a modern Australian Business Number system’

31 August 2018

BDO welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback in response to Treasury’s consultation paper ‘Designing a modern Australian Business Number system’ released on 20 July 2018 on strengthening and modernising the Australian Business Number (ABN) system. We note that this is a response to findings that participants in the black economy are using the ABN system to facilitate their fraudulent activity and a forum for recommending improvements to the ABN system which will better support ABN data for end users and underpin the growing use of ABNs across a wide range of purposes.

This BDO submission contains recommendations addressing every consultation question, including:

  • A requirement that holders of ABNs be required to lodge an annual income tax return that includes disclosure of the ABN (recommendation #7)
  • Encouraged use of the ABN to assist with the tracking and record of financial transactions, rather than punishment of taxpayers who have done the right thing and obtained an ABN (recommendation #9)
  • A requirement that online sales platforms clearly display the ABN of the business so customers can meet their legal responsibilities to ensure a valid ABN for payments over $75 to avoid withholding tax (recommendation #10)
  • Application of penalties to an activity that constitutes a business or enterprise but does not obtain an ABN (recommendation #11)
  • ATO education and compliance activities to ensure that all businesses and enterprises have an ABN linked to their income tax return (recommendation #17)

These and other issues are expanded upon in the attached appendix to the submission.