Making a false or misleading statement

When you apply for an Australian business number (ABN) or update your details you are providing a declaration that the information you have given, either electronically, over the phone or in writing, is true and correct.

A statement is defined as any information you communicate to the ABR electronically, over the phone or in writing relating to a particular ABN matter.

If you make a false or misleading statement you could be penalised. The penalty amount is based on an assessment of your behaviour leading to the making of the statement and any other relevant factors.

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False or misleading statement

A false statement is when it is not true, regardless of whether or not you know that it is false.

A misleading statement is when it gives a false impression, is uninformative, unclear, or deceptive. That is, omitting relevant or helpful information to the situation when dealing with the ABR.

Assessment of your behaviour

When assessing your behaviour in making the statement, we consider your knowledge and experience leading to the statement being made.

You may not be penalised if you let us know that you made a false or misleading statement or if you update your ABN details before we contact you.

A penalty will not apply where you:

  • took reasonable care (including an honest mistake) when making the statement
  • followed our advice or general administrative practice
  • provided all relevant information to a registered tax agent who in turn did not make the false or misleading statement recklessly or intentionally.

Penalty amounts

You will be advised in writing of the penalty and amount applied. The amount of the penalty will depend on when the statement was made and the level of behaviour leading up to making the statement.

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If you do not agree with a penalty decision there are a number of options available to you.

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