ACN and TFN to be replaced by ABN

Treasury has released an exposure draft of the Treasury Legislation Amendment (Spring Repeal Day) Bill 2015 which, amongst other things, will amend the Corporations Act 2001 and the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 to provide for the Australian Business Number (ABN) to be the single numerical identifier for companies registered under the Corporations Act from 1 July 2016. The Bill will also amend taxation laws from 1 July 2016 to allow an entity with an ABN to use it instead of a TFN.

Currently a business can receive an ABN from the Registrar of the Australian Business Register, a Tax File Number (TFN) from the Commissioner of Taxation and an Australian Company Number (ACN) from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

To reduce transition costs and uncertainty, changes will only be made prospectively. Existing ACN’s and TFN’s will not be affected.

From 1 July 2016, the process for applying for registration as a company under the Corporations Act and applying to be registered in the ABR under the ABN Act will be linked.

New companies will be issued with a single numerical identifier, an ABN, as part of their company registration process. A company will be registered for ABN purposes at the same time it is registered as a company under the Corporations Act.

ASIC will no longer give an ACN to a company on registration from 1 July 2016. Accordingly, new companies will no longer be able to use the ACN as their name. However, a company registered on or after 1 July 2016 will be able to use the ABN in its name.

An existing company will retain all its current numerical identifiers. A company registered before 1 July 2016 will be able to continue to use its ACN under the Corporations Act and will not be required to apply for an ABN if it does not have one.

The amendments will ensure that an entity that has an ABN may use it as their only Commonwealth-issued numerical identifier. Such entities will not need a TFN, although they will not be precluded from obtaining one if they choose. Entities with an ABN will be able to quote their ABN to avoid any tax consequences that may otherwise have arisen due to failure to quote a TFN.

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