Not keeping lodgements current or missing reporting deadlines are some of the key indicators to the ATO that a business may no longer be operational. It says it uses information from tax returns, other lodgement activities and even from third parties to help it decide whether ABNs are still being used.

The ATO has announced that from the end of October 2019, it will be re-focusing its efforts on an ABN cancellation program that it had initiated some time ago. Its aim is to cancel the ABNs for businesses it is confident are no longer carrying on an enterprise.

To help it determine if ABNs are active or not, it looks to indicators for a business that is obviously still in operation. For example it can check:

  • Information in the ABN holder’s tax return and other lodgements
  • If the ABN holder has other compliance and/or lodgement documents outstanding
  • Third party information.

If, however, the ATO cancels one of your client’s ABNs in error, bit your client still requires being able to use the ABN for business activities, they can:

  • Reapply for the same ABN if their business structure remains the same
  • Apply fro a new ABN if their structure changes (for example the cancelled business was a sole trader, but the new one is structured as a company). Readmore