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Your community organisation may be required by tax laws to pay GST on any goods and services it supplies. We recommend that your organisation seeks advice on its GST obligations. The following information is to help people involved in not-for-profit community organisations to understand basic details of GST and the GST concessions that may be available.
What is GST?
Goods and services tax (GST) is a tax of 10% on the sale (supply) of most goods and services consumed in Australia. In general, an organisation that is required by law to ‘register’ for GST purposes:
- is required to pay GST to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) if it sells something (ie, goods, services), and
- can claim an ‘input tax credit’ from the ATO for the amount of GST included in the price of goods and services it purchases.
Does our community organisation have to ‘register’ for GST purposes?
Whether your community organisation has to register for GST purposes depends on its turnover.
At the time of writing, the GST registration threshold for not-for profit organisations is $150,000.
The ATO has particular requirements for working out an organisation’s ‘annual GST turnover’ based on the annual income received from its supplies. For more information on how to calculate your organisation’s annual turnover see the Resources section below.
Our community organisation has an annual turnover under $150,000
If your community organisation is a not-for-profit organisation, and it has an annual turnover of less than $150,000, then it does not have to be registered for GST purposes (but can decide to voluntarily register for GST if it wants to). In general, this means it does not include GST in the price of any goods and services it sells, and it is not able to claim GST credits (input tax credits) for the GST in the price of things it buys in carrying on its activities. Before registering voluntarily you need to decide whether the administrative burden of complying with GST reporting obligations outweighs the benefits.
Our community organisation has an annual turnover of more than $150,000
If your community organisation is a not-for-profit organisation, and it has an annual turnover of $150,000 or more, then it must register for GST purposes and your organisation will have GST obligations. In general, when it sells something (goods and services) it should pay GST to the ATO and when it purchases goods and services, it can claim an input tax credit from ATO for the amount of GST included in the price of those goods and services.
To register your organisation for GST purposes, you will need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN). Once you have an ABN, you can start the process for registration for GST via the Australian Business Register website, or you can call the ATO. Further details are in the Resources section below.
If we register for GST, do we always have to pay GST or are there some concessions?
If your organisation registers for GST purposes, generally GST is payable on supplies your organisation makes but there are a limited number of GST concessions that may be available for certain not-for-profit community organisations. These concessions usually relate to particular activities (such as sales relating to raffles, bingo, fundraising events, sales of second-hand goods or uncommercial transactions and volunteer expenses). There are a number of requirements and differing GST treatments so you should carefully review the ATO’s information on GST concessions and seek advice from an accountant or lawyer.
Which community organisations are eligible for these GST concessions?
If your organisation is registered for GST purposes, there are a number of GST concessions which are available for:
- not-for-profit community organisations that are registered with the ACNC and have been endorsed by the ATO as tax concession charities (TCC), and
- not-for-profit community organisations that have been endorsed by the ATO as deductible gift recipients (DGRs). See our DGR page for more information.
For more information of TCCs, read our fact sheet on Applying for TCC endorsement on our Fringe Benefits Concessions page.
For more information on DGR, go to the Not-for-profit Law page on DGR.
There are also some limited ‘concessions’ available for not-for-profit community organisations who are not endorsed as TCCs or DGRs. For example, the laws relating to whether related organisations form a GST group (and therefore don’t have to pay GST on transactions between group members) are more generous for not-for-profit community organisations than they are for ‘for-profit’ businesses.
For full details of the GST concessions, and the organisations that those concessions may be available to, see the ATO page in the Extra Resources section below.
Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC)
Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
This is the ATO's basic guide to tax and it includes a chapter on GST. You should also read the addendum to the guide which is available from the same page as it updates the guide in relation to certain areas of the law (including GST).
This is the ATO's main page for GST information for all organisations. It also has links to 'advanced' pages for not-for-profit organisations.
If your organisation has an ABN, you can begin the process for registering for GST purposes, via the ABR site. Click on the 'Apply for GST' button in the left hand navigation of the site. You will need to enter identifying details for your organisation.
If your organisation is endorsed as a TCC or DGR it will be eligible for GST concessions (and other tax concessions). This is a link to an ATO webpage which explains the application process for endorsement.