What Goods and Services Include GST?

Table of Contents

1. What goods and services include GST?

1.1. Introduction

1.1.1 Understanding the GST Landscape in Australia

1.1.2 Why It’s Important to Know What Goods and Services Include GST

1.2. What is GST?

1.2.1. The Basic Concept of Goods and Services Tax

1.2.2. How GST Works in Australia

1.2.3. Difference Between GST and Other Taxes

1.3. The Legislation Behind GST

1.3.1. The A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999

1.3.2. Overview of Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Guidelines on GST

1.4. Key Features of GST

1.4.1.Broad-Based Tax

1.4.2. How It Affects Prices

1.4.3. The 10% Standard Rate

1.4.4. When is GST Not Charged? The Concept of GST-Free Sales of GST-Free Goods and Services

1.5. Goods That Include GST

1.5.1. Common Consumer Goods

1.5.2. Luxury Items and GST

1.5.3.Imported Goods and the Role of GST

1.5.4. Special Case: The GST and Online Purchases How GST Applies to Online Shopping Digital Products and GST

1.6. Services That Include GST

1.6.1. Professional Services

1.6.2. Real Estate Services

1.6.3.Tourism and Hospitality Services

1.6.4. Special Case: The GST and Digital Services Software and Streaming Services Digital Marketing Services

1.7. Understanding GST Input Tax Credits

1.7.1. What are Input Tax Credits?

1.7.2. Eligibility Criteria for Claiming GST Credits

1.8. How GST Impacts Businesses

1.8.1. GST Registration for Businesses

1.8.2. How to Calculate GST

1.8.3. Record Keeping and GST Reporting

1.9. How GST Impacts Consumers

1.9.1. Recognizing GST in Receipts

1.9.2. How Consumers Can Check if They’re Paying GST

1.10. Dealing With GST Disputes

1.10.1 Common GST Disputes

1.10.2 How to Resolve a GST Dispute

1.11. Resources for Further Information

1.11.1. Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Resources

1.11.2. GST-Related Online Forums

1.11.3. Helpful Books and E-books on GST

1.12. Conclusion

1.12.1. Recap of Goods and Services That Include GST

1.12.2. The Importance of Understanding GST for Australians

1.12.3. Future Changes and Their Potential Impact on GST


Whether it’s the tax included in the purchase price of your stock, or the GST you collect from customers on the goods and services you sell, GST is woven into the fabric of your financial transactions.

Our article begins by inviting you to understand the GST landscape in Australia. It’s a complex tax structure, yes, but it’s one that underpins our economic ecosystem. From the bustling cafés of Melbourne to the thriving tech start-ups in Sydney, every business – big and small – has a part to play in this landscape. By unpacking the details of what the GST is, how it operates, and who it impacts, we hope to provide a clear and concise map to navigate this landscape.

But why is it important to know what goods and services include GST? The simple answer: it directly affects your bottom line. The GST is levied on most goods and services sold or consumed in Australia, and if your business is registered for GST, you need to include GST in the price of your taxable sales, and you can also claim credits for the GST included in the price of your business purchases. Therefore, understanding GST can help you price your products or services accurately, claim the right amount of GST credits, and stay compliant with Australian taxation law.

By exploring what goods and services include GST, we aim to equip you, the small business owner, with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions. Whether you’re pricing a new product or reviewing your tax responsibilities at the end of the financial year, this understanding will be your guide. Let’s dive in.

What is GST?

At its most fundamental level, the Goods and Services Tax, or GST as it’s often abbreviated, is a broad-based tax of 10% on most goods, services, and other items sold or consumed in Australia. It’s a value-added tax, which means that it’s applied at each stage of the supply chain, from manufacturer to consumer, with the final tax burden ultimately falling on the end consumer.

Let’s take a closer look at how GST works in Australia. If your business is registered for GST, you’re required to include GST in the price of most items you sell or supply to your customers. As a business, you collect this tax on behalf of the government and then periodically (usually quarterly), you’re required to report and pay this collected amount to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). On the flip side, you can also claim GST credits for the GST included in the price of your business purchases. This system ensures that each business in the supply chain can reclaim the GST they’ve paid on their purchases, thereby preventing double taxation.

Now, how is GST different from other taxes? Unlike income tax which is a direct tax levied on your income, GST is an indirect tax, meaning it is levied on the consumption of goods and services. Another key difference is the way it’s administered. While individual and corporate income taxes are progressive, with rates that increase as income goes up, GST is a flat rate tax applied equally to all taxable goods and services, regardless of the consumer’s income level.

Understanding the concept of GST, its workings, and how it differs from other taxes is vital for you as a small business owner. With this knowledge, you can ensure that you’re meeting your tax obligations correctly, claiming all the GST credits you’re entitled to, and that your business is set up for success in Australia’s GST-inclusive marketplace.

The Legislation Behind GST

Understanding the law is the first step towards complying with it. In Australia, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is governed by legislation known as the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999. This Act provides the backbone for the operation of the GST system in Australia, setting out the parameters for when GST should be charged, how it should be calculated, and the responsibilities of businesses in relation to it.

Essentially, this Act established that GST, a value-added tax of 10%, would be applied to most goods, services, and other items sold or consumed within Australia. It also set out a range of exemptions and special cases, such as the GST-free status of certain basic foods, health care, and education services. As a small business owner, understanding these key elements of the Act can guide you in making informed decisions about how to price your goods or services, and what your tax obligations are.

Beyond the legislation itself, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) provides extensive guidelines on how to interpret and apply the GST law. These guidelines cover a range of topics, including how to register for GST, how to calculate the GST you owe, what you can claim as GST credits, and how to report and pay your GST to the ATO. These guidelines are regularly updated, so it’s worth subscribing to ATO updates or regularly checking their website to make sure your business stays compliant with the most recent rules and regulations.

In essence, the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 and the ATO’s guidelines are two crucial tools for any small business owner navigating the complexities of Australia’s GST system. With a solid grasp of these, you’re well on your way to operating within the bounds of the law, ensuring your business thrives in Australia’s vibrant and competitive economic landscape.

Key Features of GST

Before diving into the nuances of GST, let’s look at its key features. First off, GST is a broad-based tax. This means it’s applied to a wide range of goods and services sold or consumed within Australia. From your morning latte to your brand-new laptop, many of the purchases you make likely include GST.

Now, how does this affect prices? Well, if your business is registered for GST, you’re required to include GST in the price of your goods or services. This means that if you’re selling a product for $110, that price includes a $10 GST component. From a customer’s perspective, the price they pay is all-inclusive. They won’t need to calculate an additional tax on top of the shelf price. It’s this simple and transparent model that makes GST a very customer-friendly tax.

The third key feature to note is the standard rate of 10%. This is the percentage of the price that is added as GST to most taxable goods and services. So, if you sell a product or service for a base price of $100, you’d add $10 as GST, making the total price $110.

When is GST Not Charged?

Despite GST being a broad-based tax, it’s not charged on all goods and services. Certain sales are classified as GST-free. This means you don’t include GST in the price of these items, and you can still claim credits for the GST included in the cost of purchases you use to make your GST-free sales.

Examples of GST-free goods and services are broad and include but are not limited to most basic foods, some education courses, and certain medical, health, and care services. For instance, if you’re running a grocery store, most of the fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products you sell would likely be GST-free. Similarly, if you offer medical practitioner services or educational courses, you might not have to charge GST. Remember, it’s crucial to check the ATO guidelines or consult a tax professional to make sure you’re correctly classifying your goods and services.

Understanding these key features and exceptions of the GST can guide you in managing the finances of your small business and help ensure you’re meeting your GST obligations accurately and efficiently.

Goods That Include GST

Australia’s GST system encompasses a wide range of goods. From everyday items picked off supermarket shelves to high-end luxury goods, most consumer goods are subject to the 10% GST. This includes electronics, furniture, clothing, and even many of your favorite snacks. For small businesses selling these types of products, it’s essential to factor GST into your pricing structure and ensure you’re collecting the right amount of tax from your customers.

Now, let’s talk about luxury items. Whether it’s a designer handbag, a high-end watch, or a luxury vehicle, these items are not only subject to the standard 10% GST but may also attract an additional Luxury Car Tax (LCT) if their value is above a certain threshold. LCT is a tax on cars with a GST-inclusive value above the LCT threshold and applies to both locally-produced and imported luxury cars.

Speaking of imported goods, they also play a significant role in Australia’s GST system. Goods imported into Australia that are worth equal to or less than $1,000 are generally GST-free, but there are exceptions. As of 1 July 2018, GST also applies to overseas sales of low-value goods (valued at $1,000 or less) to Australian consumers. If you’re running a business that involves importing goods, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these rules to ensure you’re compliant.

Special Case: The GST and Online Purchases

The advent of e-commerce has transformed the retail landscape, and the tax system has adapted to keep pace. Today, GST applies to most online shopping. Whether you’re selling clothes through an online store or offering downloadable digital products, you’re generally required to include GST in your prices if you’re registered (or required to be registered) for GST.

This brings us to digital products, a category that has seen exponential growth in recent years. From streaming subscriptions and e-books to online courses and downloadable software, these digital products are not exempt from GST. If your business offers such digital products, it’s important to understand that GST applies to these sales, and the 10% tax should be included in the price charged to Australian consumers. This ensures you’re meeting your tax obligations and prevents any unpleasant surprises when it comes to reporting and paying your GST to the ATO.

Understanding GST Input Tax Credits

While GST may increase the cost of goods and services for your business, it’s not all one-way traffic. As a GST-registered business, you may be entitled to claim GST credits, also known as input tax credits, for the GST included in the price of your business purchases.

So, what exactly are input tax credits? These credits essentially allow you to reclaim the GST you’ve paid on business purchases when you complete your business activity statement (BAS). This can include everything from office supplies to business equipment, depending on your line of business.

Now, let’s talk about eligibility. Not all purchases qualify for GST credits. To claim a GST credit for a purchase, you need to meet several criteria. First, the purchase must be used or intended to be used, in carrying on your business. Second, the purchase does not relate to making input-taxed supplies. And third, you must provide or be liable to provide payment for the item or service.

Remember, you can only claim a GST credit for a purchase if the seller actually charged you GST on the sale. To substantiate your claims, you’ll need to have tax invoices for all purchases over $82.50 (including GST).

Understanding how to accurately claim GST credits can help you to reduce your overall tax bill and make the most of Australia’s taxation system. But as with all aspects of GST, it’s essential to refer to the ATO’s guidelines or seek advice from a tax professional to ensure you’re meeting your obligations and not missing out on any potential credits.

How GST Impacts Businesses

The Goods and Services Tax has a significant impact on how businesses operate within Australia. From the pricing of products and services to record-keeping requirements, understanding GST is a crucial aspect of running a business.

Firstly, let’s talk about GST registration. If your business has a GST turnover of $75,000 or more, you’ll generally need to register for GST. This involves applying to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), either online, by phone, or through a registered tax or BAS agent. Once registered, you’ll need to include GST in the price of your taxable supplies and you can claim GST credits for the GST included in the price of your business purchases.

Next, let’s delve into how to calculate GST. The standard GST rate in Australia is 10%. This means that if you’re selling a product or service for a price of $110, the GST portion is $10. You can calculate the GST component of a price by dividing the total price by 11.

Finally, we must touch on record-keeping and GST reporting. To manage GST effectively, businesses are required to keep accurate records of all transactions that include GST. These records will help you complete your Business Activity Statement (BAS), which you’ll need to lodge with the ATO either monthly, quarterly, or annually depending on your business circumstances. Your BAS will detail the GST you’ve collected from sales and the GST you’re entitled to claim back from your purchases.

Managing GST can seem daunting, but with a solid understanding of how it works and what it means for your business, you can navigate the system with confidence. As always, it’s important to consult the ATO or a tax professional for advice tailored to your business’s specific circumstances.

How GST Impacts Consumers

Though GST is often discussed from a business perspective, it’s equally important for consumers to understand this tax and how it affects their day-to-day purchases. From the price you pay at the checkout to the details on your receipt, GST plays a key role in consumer transactions.

One of the key things to understand as a consumer is how to recognize GST in your receipts. When you make a purchase, businesses are required to provide a tax invoice for any sale that includes GST. This invoice should clearly display the total price, the GST amount, and a statement indicating that the total price includes GST. This means that the 10% GST is generally already included in the prices you see in stores, and you won’t usually need to calculate any additional costs.

So, how can you, as a consumer, check if you’re paying GST? While the 10% GST is typically included in the advertised price, some businesses may choose to list prices without GST, particularly in a B2B context. In these cases, the invoice or receipt should clearly state that GST will be added. If you’re ever unsure whether a price includes GST, don’t hesitate to ask the retailer.

Remember, the scope of GST extends far and wide, encompassing most goods and services. But there are exceptions, with certain goods and services classified as GST-free or input-taxed, which means you won’t be paying GST on these items. Being aware of when and where GST applies can help consumers understand the true cost of their purchases and navigate the Australian retail landscape more effectively.

Dealing With GST Disputes

The complexities of GST can sometimes lead to disagreements or confusion, both between businesses and their clients, and businesses and the ATO. Understanding common GST disputes and knowing how to resolve them effectively is a vital part of managing your business’s tax obligations.

One common area of dispute revolves around the application of GST. This can be a disagreement over whether a particular good or service is taxable, or whether an item falls into one of the GST-free or input-taxed categories. Another common dispute can occur when there’s disagreement over the amount of GST charged, such as when a business charges GST on a price that already includes GST.

Disputes can also arise around GST credits. Businesses might face disagreements with the ATO over whether they’re eligible to claim a GST credit, or there might be a dispute over the amount of the credit. And, as the ATO conducts audits to ensure compliance, disputes can occur if the ATO deems that a business has underreported its GST or claimed too much in credits.

If you find yourself in a GST dispute, the first step to resolving the issue is usually to seek clarification from the ATO or a tax professional. If it’s a disagreement with a client or another business, open communication is key to clarifying misunderstandings.

In the case of a dispute with the ATO, you may want to consider lodging an objection if you believe a tax assessment is incorrect. Engaging a tax professional can provide crucial guidance during this process.

Ultimately, understanding your rights, obligations, and the avenues for resolution available to you is key to managing GST disputes effectively. Being well-informed can help reduce the risk of disputes arising in the first place, and ensure that if they do occur, they’re handled efficiently and fairly.

Resources for Further Information

Understanding the ins and outs of GST can feel overwhelming, particularly for small business owners without a background in taxation. Luckily, there are a host of resources available to assist in navigating the complexities of GST. Let’s explore some of these.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is an essential resource. Their website provides comprehensive information on all aspects of GST, from basic concepts to the specific rules around GST credits. The ATO’s online services can also be used to manage your GST registration and lodge your Business Activity Statement (BAS). For more targeted advice, the ATO offers consultation services, including the opportunity to engage with a community of peers and tax professionals in their online forum.

Next, GST-related online forums can be a treasure trove of information. Sites like Business Advice Forum, The Small Business Forum, or ATO Community can provide valuable insights from other business owners navigating similar GST concerns. Just remember, while these forums can offer helpful guidance, they’re not a substitute for professional advice.

Lastly, consider expanding your knowledge with some comprehensive books or e-books on GST. For a detailed understanding of the legislation, “The New Tax System: Goods and Services Tax Act 1999” provides commentary on the Act itself. For a more general overview, “GST for Small Business” by Barbara Gabogrecan is a highly regarded resource designed specifically to help small businesses understand and manage GST.

By using these resources, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can arm yourself with the knowledge needed to confidently navigate the Australian GST landscape. Remember, staying informed is a key aspect of effective GST management for your business.


GST, the Goods and Services Tax, is an integral part of the Australian economy. It touches virtually every transaction made, from the purchase of a loaf of bread to the provision of professional services. As we’ve discussed, GST generally applies to most goods and services sold or consumed in Australia, with some exceptions such as certain fresh foods, healthcare services, and educational courses.

For small business owners, understanding GST is not just beneficial, it’s essential. It informs how you price your goods and services, how you manage your tax obligations, and how you navigate potential disputes. Consumers, too, benefit from an understanding of GST, as it provides insights into the true cost of their purchases and how their spending contributes to government revenue.

Looking forward, it’s crucial to stay informed about potential changes to GST legislation. As the economy evolves, so too might the GST framework. Changes could impact which goods and services attract GST, how GST is calculated, or how it is reported. Staying abreast of these changes can ensure your business remains compliant and can adapt to shifts in the economic landscape.

In the complex world of taxation, knowledge truly is power. By understanding what goods and services include GST, you’re better equipped to navigate the Australian market, whether as a business owner or a consumer. As always, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice and utilize the many resources available to further your understanding of GST.