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Calling all Accountants! I have a question about earning money from an overseas source

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#1 me_n_my_kidz

Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:14 AM

Hopefully this will get found here - I have started to earn a decent amount of revenue for books that I am selling via kindle/kobo/nook stores.

I understand that I have to fill out the forms to activate the tax treaty between Australia and the US but what I'm wondering is - should I set up an ABN under my author name so that I can claim all of the business expenses that come with publishing an ebook?

I pay for cover design, editing, print proofs, blog tours as well as prizes for giveaways to promote my books.

Does anyone have any insight for me? I'm not quite earning enough to pay an accountant to do all of this for me but if someone could point me in the right direction - that would be fantastic!


#2 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 12 February 2013 - 01:04 PM

Yes you can apply for an ABN without involving an accountant.  The BAS for an author is fairly simple, it really does not need you to pay for an accountant.

#3 me_n_my_kidz

Posted 12 February 2013 - 03:23 PM

Even though my money comes from an overseas source?

#4 PrincessPeach

Posted 12 February 2013 - 03:27 PM

Getting an ABN is different to registering for GST.

When you apply for your ABN do not register for GST unless your income is going to be greater than $75,000. It will mean a little less paperwork each year.

Link to apply for an ABN:


Make sure you have your TFN handy!

Also, even though your income is sourced from O/S, you still have to include this in your Australian Income (I assume you are an Australian citizen & currently reside in Australia).

Edited by PrincessPeach, 12 February 2013 - 03:31 PM.

#5 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 12 February 2013 - 03:49 PM

Not registering for GST also means not claiming the GST though.  As authors we are registered for GST and the amount of paperwork is negligible compared to the money we get back.  Probably not worth it if you are paying for an accountant to prepare it though.

#6 Sassy Dingo

Posted 12 February 2013 - 04:17 PM

I think you need some specialist advise OP.

Authors, actors, sportspeople and the like have special provisions in the taxation legislation as 'special professionals'. Due to the nature of their work (earn a heap one year and nothing for the next few years) they can access nifty things like income averaging.

If you do go to a tax agent, give them a ring first and ask if they have experience with this - most accountants will very rarely come across it.

Here is some ATO information on special professionals including how to do income averaging:


#7 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 12 February 2013 - 04:23 PM

It's in the tax forms so, no, you don't need a specialist accountant to access the provisions.  They are really only useful for an author when you have a windfall year where your novel is optioned for film.

As we are still waiting for this, we don't do the averaging.  We were told by our accountant that if it looks like a windfall is coming, talk to them then.

Overseas income, we just put it in when etax asks us to.

I'm not arguing against paying for an accountant if you are earning serious serious money.  It's just not necessary if you are not turning over a lot of money--we were no better off using an accountant.

There's probably excellent info available from the ASA.  If you are not already a member, you probably should be.

#8 me_n_my_kidz

Posted 12 February 2013 - 05:42 PM

Thank you all for your info!

So I'm gathering that I set up an ABN and then any money that's left over after my costs come out is income that I declare on my personal tax return?

Balzac - I looked but I can't find any info on the ASA website relating to this.

#9 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 12 February 2013 - 07:23 PM



You need to go and talk to an accountant wink.gif, it is more complicated than that.

GST is done separately to your personal income tax.

#10 me_n_my_kidz

Posted 12 February 2013 - 07:45 PM

lol ok, I'll have to do that

#11 PrincessPeach

Posted 13 February 2013 - 04:50 PM

Sort of.

All of the income is declared on your tax return & all of your expenses.

But find an accountant who does know the special rules, it is a very specialised field & I'd hesitate to say you might need to look for a bigger firm rather than a smaller one. Also a good accountant will tell you if they don't know that legislation - we don't all know everything.

#12 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 13 February 2013 - 05:39 PM

I'm going to say it again wink.gif.  If you are not in the big leagues, it's really not worth paying the big money for the specialised accountants.  If you are turning over the kind of money most Australian authors turn over, you're not going to need the tax spreading options and the expenses and rebates can be done by your average accountant using etax.  Writing in the genre you are writing in, you are not going to be up for writing grants, you're a self publisher so royalties and advances are not an issue.

It's no different to any other small business.  There's no magic that a very expensive specialised accountant can offer.

#13 blackcat20

Posted 13 February 2013 - 05:45 PM

QUOTE (me_n_my_kidz @ 12/02/2013, 06:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you all for your info!

So I'm gathering that I set up an ABN and then any money that's left over after my costs come out is income that I declare on my personal tax return?

Nope. There is a section of etax that you fill in. Income, expenses etc. it works out your income for you. It isn't too complicated once you get into it.

#14 me_n_my_kidz

Posted 16 February 2013 - 01:30 PM

Ok, thanks!

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