By Lee Kirby – Senior Account Manager at White Sky

With Covid continuing to cause uncertainty, the landscape for performers and hospitality at least for the short term remains unclear.

We’re seeing local restrictions create hurdles for artists in planning shows, cancellations impacting release strategies and importantly associated costs at a time when cash flow is at its tightest.

In response, recent grant support has set out to target the music and hospitality worlds these including Business Victoria’s Events Support Package and Circuit Breaker Business Support as well as the RISE grant to name a few. However, there’s been a difficulty for many in meeting eligibility, as their business don’t have the regular prerequisites such as being registered for GST.

So what does being ‘GST Registered’ mean?

By registering with the Australian Tax office you’ll be responsible to collect and declare Goods & Services Tax (GST). In short meaning, you’ll need to charge 10% GST on your sales and claim the GST charged on eligible costs.

Generally speaking, this will then be declared to the ATO quarterly via a Business Activity Statement (BAS) and any resulting GST balance either paid to or refunded by the ATO.

Registration is legally required once either your income has reached $75k within the past 12 months, or is anticipated to reach $75k in the coming 12 months. However, there is the opportunity to register voluntarily even if you’re under $75k and this is where there may be some value for small businesses.

What are the Pros & Cons of GST Registration?

Regarding GST registrations, this is a decision that should be weighed up not solely based on grant eligibility, as it needs to make sense from a business point of view and align with your strategic direction.

Each business is different and it’s crucial that you seek advice from a professional to assess your unique situation.

Pros

  • Claim back 10% of your GST applicable costs: When you’re registered for GST, your business costs will magically reduce by 10%. Most travel costs, as well as merch manufacturing, instruments and equipment, social media marketing, and many other costs, include GST in the amount you pay. When registered for GST, that extra 10% included in those costs is effectively refunded.
  • Well Kept Accounting: Registering for GST often forces small business owners to put a financial backbone in place (accounting software/ document storage etc) which means you’ll have a better understanding of your business finances. This leads to better planning and smarter, more informed business decisions. There’s a variety of software to help you do this such as Xero & Quickbooks, alongside receipt keeping apps such as Dropbox & Dext.
  • Grant Eligibility: As we’ve discovered recently, many grants and government stimulus require a business to be GST registered.

Cons

  • 10% of some income is paid to the ATO: Any income your business makes directly from the fans will need to have 10% GST included in the price. So if you sell a t-shirt for $33, you need to pass $3 of that onto the ATO.
  • In most cases you can add the GST to the agreed price: When your income is derived from B2B (business to business) you can add GST to an agreed fee. So if you negotiate a festival spot for $2,000, you add GST to that and raise an invoice for $2200. The extra $200 is paid to the ATO, but at least it doesn’t come out of your pocket!
  • More Bookkeeping: Registering for GST means you need to fill out a BAS form every quarter, which is extra work/cost to the business. But as mentioned above, this is also a positive thing as it forces you to get your accounts in order, which they should be anyway.

What’s next?

Well, you’ll need to move fast, as the application timeframes for the current financial support are short, and you’ll want to allow some time to prepare and set up the above.

The ATO has some great reading on GST and the procedures, available on their website HERE.  Or you can find out more by contacting White Sky Music who’ll be more than happy to assist.