Guide to business activity statements (BAS)
Businesses operating in Australia are required to submit a business activity statement (BAS) at least once a quarter. This statement helps you report and pay various taxes to the ATO.
What is a business activity statement?
If you run a business, you will probably need to lodge a business activity statement. This is a report that is submitted to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) either every month or every quarter, depending on the type of business you run.
On the basis of this report, various business taxes are paid to the relevant tax office. These taxes can include:
- Goods and services tax (GST)
- Pay as you go (PAYG) income tax instalment
- Pay as you go (PAYG) tax withheld
- Fringe benefits tax (FBT) instalment
- Luxury car tax (LCT)
- Wine equalisation tax (WET)
- Fuel tax credits
Every BAS is unique to a business and may or may not include all of the above types of taxes. Your BAS will only include a detailed report about those types of taxes that your business is eligible to pay.
What do I need to include on my BAS?
You will be sent a form by the ATO which details everything you need to provide. The primary sections include:
There are different options of how you report GST, depending on how often you calculate, report and pay it. You will need to specify in your BAS what your reporting period is.
PAYG tax withheld
You will need to include the total dollar amount of salaries and wages paid, as well as the amount of tax withheld from those payments.
PAYG income tax
There are two options for reporting the business' income tax instalment, depending on how you report and calculate it.
What you owe
Based on the information you have provided on GST and PAYG you will need to calculate how much you owe to the ATO (from sales, tax withheld etc.), as well as how much the ATO owes you (from GST on purchases and credit from PAYG income tax instalments). Combining these two numbers together will tell you a final figure of how much you owe or how much is owed to you.
How do I submit a business activity statement?
Once you have completed the BAS and signed it, you need to submit it to the Australian Taxation Office before the due date for final submission. The due date is typically mentioned at the top of the BAS form.
Depending on whether you are required to submit the BAS monthly or quarterly, your due date will differ accordingly.
In the event that the final submission date is a public holiday or a weekend, the ATO allows businesses to submit the BAS on the first working day after the holiday. If you do not submit the BAS and pay the tax in a timely manner, your business could have to suffer penalty payments.
The completed business activity statement can be submitted to the ATO through several channels. These include:
- ATO online business portal
- ATO online services (you will need a myGov account linked to the ATO)
- Through a registered BAS agent
- Directly from Standard Business Reporting–enabled software
- Over the phone, if you have nothing to report
If you choose to lodge your quarterly activity statements online you may be eligible for a two-week deferral.
When is my BAS due?
The due date will differ for quarterly and monthly reporting:
|Q1: July, August and September||28 October|
|Q2: October, November and December||28 February|
|Q3: January, February and March||28 April|
|Q4: April, May and June||28 July|
Your business activity statement is usually due on the 21st day of the month following the end of the taxable period. If you are a school or associated body, you will be automatically granted a deferral of your December activity statement, which will be issued with a deferral date of 21 February.
How do I pay my business activity statement?
You can pay the ATO any of the following ways:
- Direct credit
- Direct debit
- In person at Australia Post
How do I prepare for my BAS?
The ATO recommends that you keep good records to stay on top of your business. In particular you should:
- keep records of all sales, fees, expenses, wages and other business costs
- keep appropriate records, such as stocktake records and logbooks to substantiate motor vehicle claims
- reconcile sales with bank statements
- use the correct GST accounting method
- keep all your tax invoices and other GST records for five years.
Other tips for preparing your BAS
Keep good records.
- keep records of all sales, fees, expenses, wages and other business costs;
- keep appropriate records, such as stocktake records and logbooks to substantiate motor vehicle claims;
- reconcile sales with bank statements;
- use the correct GST accounting method.
Avoid manual errors.
- check you are using the correct formulas to work out GST;
- have a separate column for GST in your cash book;
- make sure that column totals and row totals in your cashbooks are the same;
- classify and enter transactions into your accounts payable and accounts receivable systems correctly;
- use an electronic record keeping system tailored to your business type. Many systems can help you to streamline your administration tasks.
Completing your BAS.
- enter whole dollar amounts – leave cents out and don't round up to the next dollar;
- enter each invoice once only;
- if you account for GST on a cash basis, your expenses and sales must fall within the period you made or received payment;
- only complete the fields that apply to you – if you have nothing to report, enter zero;
- if you're doing this manually, double check your figures and calculations;
- you can always correct a mistake made on an earlier BAS.
Need help with your business taxes? Compare online tax agents.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to submit a business activity statement?
It is mandatory to file a BAS for every tax period as specified by the ATO. Whether or not you have done any business in that period is irrelevant. Once you have received a BAS form from the ATO, you have to complete and submit it. If no business has been transacted in that particular tax period then the BAS for that period will be referred to as a nil report.
Can I make payments towards a future BAS?
Yes. You're able to make voluntary payments to offset future BAS liability by using any of the available payment methods. You just need your payment reference number (PRN) on hand.
I've made an error on my BAS. How do I amend it?
If the mistake was on a previous BAS you can make the correction in your current one. If you are not currently submitting a BAS then you will need to lodge a revised BAS to correct the mistake. You can do this through your myGov account, the ATO business portal, from your business software if it's enabled for Standard Business Reporting or by phoning the ATO directly.
My BAS due date falls on a weekend. What do I do?
If the due date for your business activity statement falls on a weekend or public holiday, the ATO will allow you to pay the following business day.
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