The Australian Business Register (ABR) is a key national data asset and critical tool in the Australian business landscape. Holding an Australian Business Number (ABN) not only creates an identifier for interacting with government, it is increasingly seen as a licence to do business. It's therefore imperative that the community and users of the ABR have trust and confidence in the integrity of the data and our administration of the register.
In continuing to improve the integrity of the ABR, and in consultation with the ABR Board, we recently conducted an internal review. This review focused on the current state of the ABR and provided recommendations for how it could be improved.
The recommendations related to three themes:
As part of keeping the integrity of the register, we conduct ABN entitlement reviews. These reviews are done in a few different ways.
We'll continue to cancel ABNs where it appears that they have ceased operating their business because we know many people forget to do this themselves. It's easy for us to tell if a business is still operating when their tax return and BAS lodgments are up to date.
In situations where we think there is a risk that an ABN holder has been incorrectly classified as a contractor we will engage directly with the employer or industry level and address the issue holistically.
We'll connect with those engaging workers, including industry associations and intermediaries (eg tax agents and migration agents) to provide greater certainty for workers and their entitlement to an ABN and associated tax and super obligations.
This means employers will better understand:
Additional checks will be introduced into the ABN application process to confirm those obtaining an ABN are entitled. While we still want to make it easy for people to obtain an ABN, we're conscious that the right questions need to be asked up front.
This means applicants will have greater certainty that when they get an ABN they are entitled to keep it and they'll be better informed about their obligations as an ABN holder.
We'll continue to make ABR data available to public, businesses and government users. The data quality will be improved; it will be available quicker and the format the data is presented in will meet the user’s needs.
This will lead to other government regulators having greater confidence in ABR data. Data will be accessible in a way that supports their business outcomes, allowing better coordination of strategies and treatments across government agencies.