• Our approach to reviewing your ABN entitlement

    Using environmental scanning, and information from the ABR and other government agencies, risks to the integrity of the ABR are identified and a range of treatment actions are undertaken to ensure that information on the ABR is up to date and that non-entitled ABNs are removed.

    Each year, as part of our ABR integrity program, more than 70,000 high-risk ABNs are reviewed to ensure they are entitled.

    In addition, we cancel redundant ABNs that are no longer required. In 2015-16, more than 850,000 ABNs were removed from the ABR.

    What you can expect from us

    To make it easy for you to understand and comply with the requirements for ABN entitlement, we will:

    • treat you fairly
    • be timely
    • keep you informed
    • be transparent and provide assistance when explaining entitlement and obligations relating to your ABN
    • build strong working relationships with tax professionals, legal practitioners and other government agencies to ensure that we provide effective and efficient services to the business community
    • continue to build community confidence by ensuring that the information contained in the ABR is reliable and current. The integrity of the system will be maintained by supporting those who choose to do the right thing.

    What we expect from you

    As an ABN holder, we expect you to:

    • comply with requests for information when selected for an ABN entitlement review
    • participate in the review process
    • update all your contact details in the ABR within 28 days of becoming aware of any changes
    • cancel your ABN if you are no longer trading. If you later start a new business, you can easily reapply for an ABN
    • notify us if your employer is asking you to register for an ABN and you are not in business.

    How we help you

    We provide a range of support services for those starting a business and those already in business. Our website, abr.gov.au, can provide you with a range of services and self-help tools, including:

    • a tool to check on your ABN entitlement
    • a service to apply and receive an ABN on-the-spot, or to update your ABN details
    • information on choosing the right business structure for your business
    • a dedicated ABN phone service, 139 ABN (139 226) so you can call us if you have questions in relation to your ABN, including updating or cancelling your ABN information or if you have a query about an ABN application.

    We also provide:

    How we detect and deal with those who don’t do the right thing

    We use various sources of information and undertake a range of risk treatment activities to detect and deal with people who do not comply.

    We consult and share information with a wide range of stakeholders including:

    • the Australian Taxation Office
    • Fair Work Australia
    • state/territory revenue offices
    • local councils
    • Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

    We cancel ABNs where there is no entitlement. Penalties may also apply for making false and misleading statements to obtain an ABN, e.g., when it is not being used for business.

    ABR entitlement review process

    In order to build good working relationships and minimise any cost and disruption to your business, we will try to contact you at the beginning of the review process.

    We will do this using the following options:

    • telephone – When we interact with you on the phone, we will ask you specific identity questions to protect your privacy and authenticate who we are speaking to.
    • email – We will contact you via email and request you to contact us. We will never ask you to provide personal information via email prior to speaking to us.
    • SMS – We will use SMS to request you contact us.
    • letter – In instances where we cannot speak with you or email you, we will correspond with you in writing using your most current address listed with us we will write to you requesting information and asking you to contact us.
    • face to face – In some instances, we will visit you in person to discuss your ABN entitlement and view your business for authenticity our officers will identify themselves to you with an official identification card. To protect your privacy, you will be required to confirm your identity.

    Once we have contacted you, we want to establish a professional working relationship. We will do this by being open with you about why you were selected for the review and provide you with the opportunity to discuss and provide the information required to determine your entitlement to an ABN.

    Your cooperation in quickly providing supporting evidence will help us determine your entitlement to an ABN and provide you with certainty as soon as possible.

    As a business owner, you are required to keep records to support your entitlement to an ABN. The required information varies from case to case and we will clearly discuss our information requirements with you.

    We will verbally advise you of the outcome of the review including, where necessary, the dispute process should you disagree with our decision. This will be confirmed in writing.

    • Last modified: 20 Jun 2018QC 1157