Every ATO number you need to file your business taxes
Credit: John Shieldsmith
MetaDescription: Sometimes it seems like tax agencies have numbers for everything, and the ATO is no exception. Find the ATO number you need — from your TFN to your ABN.
As a small business, there are a number of, well, numbers you need to keep track of. You have your phone number, your business address, insurance policy numbers, and you can add Australian Taxation Office file numbers on top of it all. Every number makes up a different part of your business.
Taxes are an annual responsibility for every person and business, and your ATO numbers will play a pivotal role in fulfilling your tax obligations. Whether you’re a permanent migrant or an Australian resident, small business or sole trader, you will have to pay taxes to the Australian government if you do business in Australia. And this is where your ATO tax file numbers come in.
Before diving into ATO tax file numbers and their role in your business, let’s take a look at what ATO numbers are. Then, we’ll cover specific numbers and their role in properly filing your taxes.
What are ATO numbers?
There’s no single ATO number, but rather, numerous numbers that the ATO requires for proper tax filing and tax returns. These numbers vary in purpose, but all of them are necessary if you run a legitimate business in Australia and plan on handling your taxes properly (which is generally a good idea!).
The following numbers and pieces of information are essential to filing and collecting taxes, and being a legitimate business in the eyes of the ATO.
Australian business number
Your Australian business number (ABN) is used for identification purposes with both the government and the people. This number is 11 digits and is used to claim various grant credits, collect tax credits, file invoices, and more. An ABN is necessary for most business activity and can be obtained through the Australian Government.
Tax file number
The tax file number, or TFN, is used for withholding taxes from employee pay and filing taxes with the government. While employees don’t have to provide an individual TFN, it makes your job easier and allows them to pay less in taxes. It can also make the process of creating a super fund more efficient.
Proof of identity documents
If your business is brand new and you haven’t finalised all your business registrations, it’s a good idea to get your proof of identity documents together. These include your identification card, passport, birth certificate, certificate of identity, Medicare card, and even your Australian post digital ID. It’s also a good idea to have multiple proof of identity documents when you file your taxes.
A MyGov account
While you don’t need a MyGov account, it makes it easier to access your ATO information and file your taxes. A MyGov account is essentially a single login for every major Australian government agency. With this, you’ll be able to quickly initiate tax processes, request necessary forms, and so on.
How to get a TFN
If you’re new to Australia and looking to run a business or be employed by one, you’ll need a TFN. Similarly, your employees will need TFNs as well. Knowing how to get a TFN can save you some legal trouble, and allow you to help your employees who don’t have a TFN.
The process is fairly straightforward, and can largely be completed online.
- Collect the necessary documents before applying for a TFN. These documents include: government ID or passport (if you’re from out of the country), Australian post address and phone number, and an email address.
- Go to the ATO site to begin the process. Consider creating an account, as this will make it easier to resume your progress.
- Complete the application and follow the prompts on the screen. The application will ask a number of questions about your background and legal identity. Once you’re ready to submit your application, click the submit button.
- Wait to hear back. You should get your TFN within a month. If you don’t, be sure to contact the ATO offices and ask why you were denied.
The TFN process is short and simple. If you or any of your employees are missing a TFN, be sure to get it immediately to avoid any legal repercussions or fees.
The importance of tax file numbers
The TFN is an important number when it comes to collecting taxes and filing. As an employer you need to ensure that you have up to date TFNs for your employees in order to withhold the right amount. Ideally, that is.
However, there may be some occasions where you are unable to provide a TFN for an employee, as is the case when the employee hasn’t given you a TFN. The ATO provides specific guidance on how payroll software (such as KeyPay) should handle TFNs in these circumstances. You must also contact the ATO within 14 days if the employee hasn’t provided a TFN to ensure proper payments are made via a TFN declaration.
Below is a list of the ‘special’ TFNs that are made available by the ATO and are fully supported in KeyPay:
- 000000000: No TFN quoted by employee, the employee chose not to or failed to quote a TFN within 28 days.
- 111111111: The employee is applying for a TFN at the time payment summaries are produced (i.e., they started work mid to late June and has not yet received TFN from the ATO).
- 444444444: The employee is a recipient of a social security or service pension or a benefit (other than Newstart Allowance, Sickness Allowance, etc.) and has claimed an exemption from quoting a TFN.
- 987654321: The employee supplied an invalid TFN.
If you have employees without a TFN and you’d like to help them acquire one, you can help them create a TFN online. This is done via a TFN application on the ATO website: ato.gov.au. For tax purposes, this will make your life as a business owner simpler. It will also help your employees receive bigger tax returns, as they won’t be paying the non-TFN rates. If they have additional questions, direct them to the ATO or have them consult with their qualified tax agent.
How to contact the ATO
If you’re scratching your head over any of this or you simply need additional support from the ATO, that’s completely understandable. There are several ways to easily contact the ATO.
- Contact the ATO via phone by using their directory
- Use the ATO live chat feature to speak with an agent from your computer
- Reach out to the ATO via social media by visiting any of their social media pages
- Write the ATO a traditional letter and send it to their address:
Australian Taxation Office
GPO Box 9990
[Name and postcode of your capital city]
- Visit the ATO in person by going to their offices or attending any of the programmes listed on their site
As always, if you still have questions or have any doubts, don’t hesitate to contact your financial consultant or a tax agent. While they may not have the exact knowledge of an ATO representative, they will know who to put you in touch with and be able to guide you toward an answer.
ATO’s number one
Properly filing your taxes as a business may seem complicated, but with the right information, you can go in prepared and file like a pro. By understanding the various ATO tax file numbers necessary to complete your taxes, you can make both your life and the life of your tax agent easier.
Few feelings are better than completing your taxes and knowing they were filed correctly. In due time, you will become a pro at filing. Who knows, you may even become ATO’s number one favorite business!