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I know that generally businesses in Australia need an Australian Business Number (ABN) for tax reasons. I recall reading somewhere (not sure if it was here or another site) that by self-publishing you're entering into a business.

So I am wondering, if you were to self-publish do you need an ABN? Would this be different if you used Amazon's services to sell the book instead of buying the ISBN, formatting the Book and selling it yourself?

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    When it comes to taxes, it is always better to ask the relevant government agency than to trust anonymous guesswork on the web. It seems to me that the information on starting your own business provided by the Australian Taxation Office should answer your questions. You can also call them and ask. – user5645 Feb 9 '17 at 10:51
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I don't know if this is the right SE for this question, and standard IANAL disclaimer here (followed by I Am Not An Accountant), however, I am Australian and do have my own ABN (so that may help?)

It depends entirely on your business structure. If you are directly engaged in providing a product or service to someone then yes, you are required to have an ABN and register for GST.

The Australian Business Register website covers the basics of what the requirements are for an ABN.

The plus side, though, is that applying for one is free, fairly easy and relatively quick (well, as quick and easy as any dealings with the Australian government are).

Something to also bear in mind is that as part of your tax return, you do need to specify if part of your income stems from royalties associated with books, music etc.

The benefits of using a platform like Amazon or any of the other self-publishing (or even traditional publishing) organisations is that you, directly, do not require an ABN.

However, keep in mind that if you do decide to get an ABN, and set yourself as a sole trader (in a similar fashion to say, a photographer), you will be able to claim expenses related to your business of writing. Things like equipment, a percentage of power and data etc.

But the biggest advice (and really, the only) is to talk to an accountant. A good accountant will help you set things up correctly, and so that it has a minimal impact, financially, on you.

  • You don't need to register for GST if your turnover is below $75K/yr (with a few exceptions which shouldn't apply for a writer, but same disclaimers apply). Not being registered for GST makes your quarterly BAS trivial (or in some cases not necessary). On the other hand if you earn $75K+ from books, I'd say you are a successful writer and deserve an accountant :) – Zeus Feb 11 at 7:14

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