The ATO has announced that in October 2019, they will be focusing on the bulk Australian business number (ABN) cancellation program. This program will be cancelling ABNs that the ATO is confident are inactive in an attempt to create cohesion within the Australian Business Register (ABR).
There are a few areas the ATO looks into to find indications of inactive ABNs, such as;
- Whether there are outstanding lodgements from the ABN holder.
- Information from the ABN holder’s tax return and other lodgments.
- Third party information.
In the event the ATO mistakenly cancels your ABN that is still in use, you can;
- Reapply for the same ABN if your business structure remains the same, or;
- Apply for a new ABN if the business structure has changed.
Last year, a Treasury consultation paper that examined a reform of the ABN system suggested periodic renewals for ABNs to ensure information is up-to-date, as well as renewal fees. This was suggested to remind ABN holders to review registrar rules and any changes that might be implemented.
As business data is used for various reasons, such as emergency services and government agencies during times of natural disaster to identify where financial disaster relief may be needed or other agencies when assessing potential receivers of grants, it is important for the ABR to be up to date with active ABNs.