Income specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

If you or your partner earn income or someone gives you money from any source, you need to let us know.

What is income

Income can be:

  • money or goods that you get in return for work or services
  • payments you get
  • profits you get from a business - this is the money it makes after you take out costs of the business.

This includes money from:

  • any sort of work
  • sales of arts and crafts
  • some special types of income to do with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands and skills.

Money you get may count in your income test. This means it could change your payments from us.

If you have any income from outside Australia, this also counts as income you need to tell us about.

If you have a partner, their income counts as yours for your income test.

When to let us know about changes

If you or your partner get income, your payments may change. It’s important to quickly tell us about any changes to your or your partner’s income. If you don’t, we may pay you too much. If you owe us money, we'll work with you to make a plan to pay the money back.

Call us on your regular payment number.

What are special types of income

There are special types of income that may also count towards your income test.

Gate takings

This is money for selling tickets to:

  • enter land such as national parks
  • attend Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sports or cultural events.

If you or your partner get any share of gate takings, we count it as income.

If you or your partner get this money as a lump sum, we count it as income for 12 months from the date you get it.

Indigenous land use agreements

You or your community can negotiate an agreement about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island lands and waters are used.

It’s not income if your community gets the money. If you or your partner get the payment, this is income for 12 months from the date you get it.

Native Title claim payments

If you get money through a Native Title claim, let us know:

  • why you got it
  • what you’re using it for.

This is so we can decide if it’s income.

It may not count as income if it’s compensation for the loss of use and enjoyment of your traditional lands.

Heritage survey payments

These are where someone pays you for your help with heritage surveys. For example, they can be from miners, scientists or explorers.

These payments count as income from work.

Consultancy fees

If a developer who is building on a sacred site pays you, this is a consultancy fee. You or your partner may get the fee paid as a lump sum or regular smaller payments.

If you or your partner get the fee as a lump sum, we count it as income for 12 months from the date you get it.

If it’s regular payments, we may treat it the same as a part time job.

Sales of arts and crafts

If you or your partner work for yourselves selling arts or crafts, the money you get from sales is business income.

We may ask you for a profit and loss statement. This shows us:

  • how much money you got before you paid tax
  • what your costs were to make your arts or crafts.

If you share this money with your community, let us know.

Read about self-employment or partnership income.

Royalties

If someone pays you or your partner in return for mining on Indigenous land, this is a royalty.

If you get the money, it counts as your income.

If the community gets the money, it:

  • doesn’t count as income if they use the money for the whole community
  • counts as income if they share it among people who plan to keep it for themselves.

Some royalties are for not being able to use and enjoy traditional lands any more. Let us know if this is the case. The money may not count as income.

Sitting fees

These are fees paid to committee members for attending meetings. They count as income.

Money for travel related costs to go to meetings doesn’t count as income. But if you have money left over to keep, the left over money counts as income.

For example, if you get $100 for travel but only spend $60, the extra $40 counts as income.

Cultural performances and talks

If someone pays you to perform at an event, this is a cultural performance payment. This can be for any of the following:

  • dancing
  • playing the didgeridoo
  • doing tours
  • traditional story telling.

If you get the money paid to yourself, it counts as your income.

If the community gets the money, it:

  • doesn’t count as income if they use the money for the whole community
  • counts as income if they share it among people who plan to keep it for themselves.

Opening events

If you’re paid to open an event, this may count as income. An example is doing a Welcome to Country.

If you get the money, it counts as your income.

If the community gets the money, it:

  • doesn’t count as income if they use the money for the whole community
  • counts as income if they share it among people who plan to keep it for themselves.

Page last updated: 12 October 2022