We regularly check if businesses are entitled to their Australian business number (ABN) and review inactive ABNs for cancellation. This helps keep the information stored on the Australian Business Register (ABR) up-to-date.
On this page
- Why we do this
- ABN cancellation program
- What you need to do
- ABN entitlement reviews
- If you're selected for review
Why we do this
Government agencies, emergency services and the wider community rely on accurate ABR data for economic planning and development, and to support businesses in times of disaster.
We may contact you at any time:
- if we identify your ABN as potentially inactive
- to review your entitlement to an ABN.
ABN cancellation program
Our cancellation program aims to identify and cancel ABNs where we're confident the ABN is no longer being used.
If the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) tells us your company is deregistered, we'll cancel your ABN.
Your ABN may be identified as inactive and cancelled if:
- you haven't reported business income
- your lodgments aren't up-to-date, indicating that the business is no longer operating
- you advise that you have stopped business in your latest income tax return
- you lodge a final tax return.
What you need to do
If we contact you or your agent about cancelling your ABN and you are:
- carrying on a business - respond using the automated phone service number provided, which is the fastest way to tell us you still need your ABN. Other methods of contacting us may not be received in time to prevent your ABN being cancelled.
- no longer in business - you don't need to do anything. We will cancel your ABN.
We’ll never ask you to provide confidential details in our communications. For information about how and why we may contact you, check our communication to ABN holders.
ABN entitlement reviews
We conduct random reviews on a regular basis to confirm if businesses are entitled to an ABN. These entitlement reviews may happen when you apply or after your ABN has been issued.
You may be selected for an ABN entitlement review if:
- there are indicators on your tax return, other lodgments, or other third-party information that indicate you are no longer operating a business
- you’ve reapplied for an ABN after we've refused or cancelled it.
If you’re selected for review
To confirm your entitlement to an ABN, we'll ask you to provide evidence that you're operating your business, or took steps to commence your business or enterprise from the start date provided in your ABN application.
This includes evidence that you’ve undertaken some of the following activities:
- advertising and setting up a social media account or a website for the business
- purchasing business cards or stationery for the business
- obtaining business licences or insurance to operate (such as public liability and professional indemnity)
- leasing or purchasing premises, equipment or stock for the business
- issuing quotes or bidding for work
- consulting with financial, business or tax advisers
- applying for finance
- buying a business.
If we determine you're not entitled to an ABN, we will cancel your ABN. If you’re not satisfied with our decision, you can lodge an objection.
If your ABN has been cancelled or refused
If we’ve cancelled or refused your ABN and you don’t agree with our decision, you can:
- reapply online
- lodge an objection.
If your company is deregistered, you'll need to re-register with ASIC prior to reapplying for your ABN.
If your self-managed super fund ABN has been cancelled, you can phone the ATO on 13 10 20 to find out whether it can be reinstated or if you require a new ABN.
It’s an offence to quote an ABN that isn’t your own, or to use your ABN when it has been cancelled.