Sole trader or partnership income

Business income is counted in the income test.

If you’re a sole trader or in a business partnership, you must tell us so we can assess your income.

How we assess your income

We assess income you earn from your business separately to other employment income.

When you make a claim, you need to tell us if you’re involved in a business.

If you’re getting a payment from us, you need to tell us if you or your partner start or become involved in running an existing business.

You don’t need to report your business income each fortnight as part of your employment income reporting.

We use the information you give us about your business to work out an annual income amount. We then use that amount to work out your fortnightly payment rate.

If your business income or assets change, you must let us know.

If you get any income from another source, such as employment income, you must report it each fortnight.

What’s included in the income test

Your assessable income as a sole trader or business partner is your gross income minus the deductions we allow.

If you’re a sole trader we use all your business income minus allowable deductions.

If you’re in a business partnership, we use your share of the business income minus allowable deductions.

Deductions we allow

Not all deductions claimed in your tax return can be used to reduce your assessable business income for your payment from us. 

We can reduce your assessable business income by all of the following:

  • costs needed to earn business income
  • depreciation of business assets claimed under Division 40 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
  • employee superannuation.

We can't reduce your assessable business income by any of the following:

  • donations
  • borrowing costs
  • entertainment
  • amortisation of intangible assets
  • prior year losses
  • private health insurance premiums
  • personal life insurance premiums
  • offsetting losses from another business
  • superannuation for sole traders or business partners
  • some capital costs such as a large equipment purchase
  • tax agent’s fees.

We also can’t reduce your assessable business income by depreciation or instant asset write-offs claimed under the small business entity concessions. These are in Subdivision 328-D of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.

Details we need

You need to give us details about your business income and assets.

Details about your business income and assets

When you first tell us about your business you’ll need to complete a Business details form. You also need to give us the most recent versions of each of the following items:

  • your personal tax return
  • your partnership income tax return (if you’re in a partnership)
  • profit and loss statement or income statement
  • depreciation schedule
  • balance sheet
  • livestock trading account if the business is a primary production business.

You should also give us a copy each year of your financial statements and personal and business income tax returns. You should give us these within 14 days of you or your tax agent preparing them.

Financial statements include all of the following:

  • profit and loss statements
  • balance sheets
  • depreciation schedule
  • notes to accounts.

Details about claims under Subdivision 328-D

You may have claimed small business entity concessions under Subdivision 328-D of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. If this is the case, we won’t allow the deduction of expenses related to either:

  • depreciation
  • instant asset write-off.

If you’ve claimed expenses under Subdivision 328-D we may still allow the deduction of an expense for depreciation. To do this, you need to let us know the amount you could’ve claimed under Division 40.

You’ll need to provide a depreciation schedule or document to show how you calculated the Division 40 amount.

When and how to update your business income and assets

You need to tell us within 14 days about any changes to your overall business income or assets. For example, if your business took on or lost a major contract, this may be a change to your overall business income.

We know businesses have busy and slow periods. You only need to tell us about changes to your business income if you think it will be different over the whole year.

If your business income has changed you need to give us an updated Profit and Loss Statement form.

If your business assets have changed, you need to give us an updated balance sheet.

We may overpay you if you don’t tell us about either:

  • a profit increase
  • an increase to your business assets.

If you’re overpaid, a debt may be raised and you’ll have to pay us back.

You must report all other employment income to us.

You must also report income from gifts or allowances. Read more about how we define income.

If your overall business profit has changed

You must provide an updated Profit and Loss Statement form to show the change in your business income.

If your overall business profit hasn’t changed

If this is the case, you don’t need to do anything. If your business profit changes in the future, you’ll need to give us an updated Profit and Loss Statement form.

Page last updated: 12 January 2023.
QC 28956