Government bodies and how they relate to your private company (the basics)

Government bodies and how they relate to your private company (the basics)

There is much to understand when starting a business in Australia, far more than most beginners would believe.

So you have decided to register a company to carry out your business activities. There are many legal advantages in doing so, however that is another subject entirely. This article relates to Australian Pty. Ltd, or Proprietary Limited companies.

1. ASIC – Australian Securities and Investments Commission. This is essentially Australia’s ‘Companies House’, or ‘Registrar of Companies’ and was established in its current form in 1998 in line with recommendations from the Wallis Report on the Australian Financial System.

ASIC’s areas of responsibility include:

  • corporate governance
  • financial services
  • securities and derivatives
  • insurance
  • consumer protection financial literacy

When you register a company, you may choose to do so via a range of Private Service Providers (PSP’s) such as Registration Agents, Business Consultants, Accountants, Lawyers, Financial Advisers or similar service providers. The process can be completed by completing and lodging a paper ASIC Form 201, or through our online company registration platform.

Upon registration of your new company, ASIC will issue your company with an Australian Company Number, (ACN), a Certificate of Registration and Corporate Key (unique number important for the maintenance of your company).

2. ABR – Australian Business Register (ABR) Program. This is the Government-run organisation, set up in an effort to assist businesses to comply with all Government regulations (there are many). The ABR works in collaboration with all levels of government in a largely online environment, allowing businesses to more easily maintain their company or business details and information.

Before you do business with your new company, you need to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). An ABN is a unique 11-digit number, consisting of two digits, followed by your company’s 9-digit ACN.

When you register for an ABN you can also:

  • request a Tax File Number (TFN)
  • register for Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • register business name or names (if you operate under more than one name)
  • get an AUSkey to transact online with government agencies
  • be endorsed as a deductible gift recipient or an income tax exempt charity

3. ATO – Australian Taxation Office. It is the belief of the author, that anyone requiring an explanation as to the basic role of the ATO, may want to reconsider setting up a business. However, it is of course worth a mention, as the relationship that your business will have with the ATO is likely to be the most complex of all relationships and is never to be taken lightly. I implore you to seek professional accounting advice BEFORE you set up your business. There are many ways to structure a business for correct taxation, personal privacy, and liability issues, not to mention the ever-important bookkeeping and tax filing.

For those who like to read and do their own initial research, the ATO offers many great online and paper resources. I would strongly suggest starting at and following the many other links to other informative pages relating to new businesses in operating in Australia.

I cannot advise you what taxes you need to pay, or how to ensure you are fully-compliant. What I do recommend is that you pay your due taxes, and that you do so on time! Areas to start in doing your own research include, but are not limited to:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • Business Activity Statement (BAS)
  • Pay as you go (PAYG) Withholding
  • Record Keeping
  • Salaries, Wages and Superannuation Payments
  • Banking solutions for taxation

Thank you for reading this article. While we cannot give you many answers in one page of information, we trust that you now have a basic understanding of where to begin with your business. Spending time to do research now, asking questions of your friends and family, reading educational and informative articles, browsing government websites, and seeking professional advice, may play a pivotal role in the success of your business!

Please note that the information provided in this article is intended as a guide to assist you in seeking the professional advice that you need in relation to your business.