3/374 Pennant Hills Road, Pennant Hills NSW 2120
Call Us Today:
(02) 9980 5892

Your ABN Is Your Business’s Identifier – What Happens If It Gets Cancelled?

You may not have thought about it recently, but is it possible that your ABN is at risk of cancellation? Unfortunately for some, this is a distinct possibility for businesses after dealing with several years of business fluctuation.

As a resident of Australia, you are entitled to an ABN if you’re:

  • carrying on or starting an enterprise in Australia
  • making supplies connected with Australia’s indirect tax zone
  • a Corporations Act company

You may also be entitled to an Australian Business number if you are a non-resident who is:

  • Carrying on or starting an enterprise in Australia
  • Making supplies connected with Australia’s direct tax zone.

If your business has been in reduced operation recently, this should be of concern to you.

If you have not reported business activity in your tax return or there are no other signs of business activity in other lodgments or third-party information, your Australian Business Number may be flagged for inactivity.

If an ABN is identified as being inactive, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) may select it as a candidate for cancellation. In the event that your ABN is cancelled, you will not have a legal business in operation.

Would your customers be likely to deal with an illegal business? It is most likely that no, they would not. As such, losing customers to something like this means a loss of revenue – something that no business ever wants to see happen.

It is your responsibility to maintain your ABN details. If you lapse, the ATO will notify you of the pending cancellation.

The ATO periodically checks ABNs for inactivity to make sure that the information available on the Australian Business Register is correct. The ABR’s information is also used in the event of natural disasters by emergency services and government agencies to identify where financial disaster relief is needed to help businesses.

In the event that there are defunct or inactive ABNs in the ABR, they may incorrectly receive funds that they are not actually eligible to receive.

If your ABN is cancelled and you need it later:

  • you can reapply for the same ABN if your business structure is the same
  • you’ll get a different ABN if your business structure is different (e.g. you were a sole trader but are now a company)

If the ATO cancels your ABN and you disagree with the decision, you can contact them directly to try to resolve the issue directly.

One of the main causes for ABN cancellation is a failure to lodge business activity in your tax returns. Remember that registered tax agents like us can assist you during that process, and help you avoid losing your ABN.

If you’re someone who often finds it difficult to make large lump sum payments for goods or services, you may want to consider looking into “Buy Now Pay Later” services.

Buy now pay later essentially means that, rather than paying in a full lump sum payment for a product or services rendered, there may be an option to pay through instalments of a certain amount over a set period to make the sum of the full amount in total. This method should allow you to pay in full for the product or service without overly straining your finances – you pay back what you can, as agreed upon when you begin the buy now pay later service.

Some popular buy now pay later services include Afterpay, Zip Pay, Brightepay, and some credit card networks such as  Mastercard and Visa, can offer buy now pay later arrangements.

Though it can be a convenient, immediate solution, it may be challenging to juggle the necessary repayments with other financial commitments. It’s not always the most appropriate method for people, and you should bear in mind your situation and ability in paying back the amounts. 

Before you sign up, keep in mind: 

  • It becomes easier to overspend with buy now pay later services, so know your limits on what you can and can’t afford.
  • You will be charged fees and costs to use the service, which can add up to a princely sum in and of itself.
  • Keeping track of your payments can be tricky if you’ve signed up for multiple services.
  • It could affect your loan applications for a car or mortgage as lenders consider buy now pay later spending just as much as your credit score.
  • Late repayments can appear on your credit report, which affects your ability to borrow money in the future.
  • Layby can be a cheaper alternative to buy now pay later, with no account-keeping or late fees to consider

If you are someone who could make use of BNPL services, you may wish to:

  • Ensure that when using the BNPL service, you stick to a set limit on what you spend so that you can comfortably pay it back later. 
  • Aim only to have one BNPL account at a time to manage payments through, rather than confuse yourself with multiple payments across different providers.
  • Always budget for bills, loan payments and BNPL payments, and 
  • Rather than use your credit card for payments to your BNPL account, consider linking to your debit account instead.

If you would like assistance in planning your financial future, help in managing your budget or some friendly advice, see us for a chat about what we can do for you.


What our Client Say

John Briggs

Jane Noller has been my accountant for the last 15 plus years. I can testify to Jane’s professionalism and expeditious manner in dealing with the day to day issues that surrounds our business accounting.

John Briggs

Registered Building Certifier

David and Alison Parker

I have been consulting J L Noller and Co. (more specifically Jane) for six years and during this time I have found her to be professional, efficient and easy to discuss all accounting and taxation matters with. Her office team are all polite and friendly also.

David and Alison Parker

Business Owner

Carl Gillmore

I have used Jane & the team for the last 6 years for all of my business & personal accounting needs. They have always been professional, easy to talk to & available when we have needed assistance.

Carl Gillmore

Carl Gillmore Landscape

John Briggs

Jane Noller has been my accountant for the last 15 plus years. I can testify to Jane’s professionalism and expeditious manner in dealing with the day to day issues that surrounds our business accounting.

John Briggs

Registered Building Certifier