How to Work Legally As a Freelancer in Australia - ByteScout
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How to Work Legally As a Freelancer in Australia

Australia’s warm climate makes it one of the best places to work as a freelancer. It’s therefore not surprising that Australia has about 4.2 million freelancers, of which 47% are under the age of 40 years. In this Freelancing in Australia guide, you can explore how you can work legally as a freelancer in Australia.

  1. Freelancing in Australia Legally
  2. Choose Your Freelancing Business Model
  3. Solo trader
  4. Partnership
  5. Limited Company
  6. How to Register a Freelance Business in Australia
  7. Freelancer Taxes in Australia
  8. Choose Your Business Location
  9. Work as Freelancer in Australia – Frequently Asked Questions
  10. Can I work as a Freelancer in Australia?
  11. How do freelancers pay tax in Australia?
  12. How Can I Find Freelance Work in Australia?
  13. Do I Need an ABN As a Freelancer?
  14. Freelancing Websites in Australia
  15. How to Become a Freelance Writer in Australia
  16. Self-Employment Tax in Australia
  17. How to Pay Tax on ABN
  18. Conclusion

Freelancing in Australia

Freelancing in Australia Legally

  • Choose your business model
  • Discover which taxes to pay
  • Discover your deductible expenses
  • Beat the tax deadline

Who Is a Freelancer in Australia?

The Australian government considers you a freelancer if you meet the following conditions:

  • Do not get a paid holiday or sick leave.
  • You supply your tools of trade or profession.
  • Your payments are strictly paid per project.
  • You have control over how, when, and where you work.

Choose Your Freelancing Business Model

Once you have chosen to monetize your skill, the next option is to choose how you are going to freelance. That’s because the government expects you to pay taxes on your income if it exceeds $4,000 per year. You can do it as a sole trader, in partnership with someone, or as a company.

There are benefits and obligations that you must fulfill with each business type, but starting as a sole proprietor is the simplest legal freelancing method in Australia.

However, working as a sole trader is often the easiest option. Furthermore, the Australian government’s Australian Business License and Information Service (ABLS) tool can help you to determine the type of licenses you need.

In summary, here is what to expect when freelancing in Australia.

1. Sole Trader

If you are just starting your freelance business, you can choose to work as a sole trader. It is a simple business model, and you take all the responsibility of running your business. You get to decide how much of the profits you can use, and you also bear all losses if they occur. Most important, when paying tax, you do it as one entity, instead of separating yourself from your business.

As a sole trader, you will need to obtain an Australian business number (ABN), which is free. Furthermore, you can opt to register a business name, which will cost you $36 annually or $86 for 3 years. You may also opt for a separate business bank account, of which the bank may charge some fees.

AS a sole trader, you must keep your important freelance records such as your invoices for a period of 5 years. In the event that you stop your freelance business, you must also notify the government within 28 days. You can learn more about other requirements and updates here.

2. Partnership

You can choose to start your freelance business in partnership with one or more entities. In a partnership, you share profits and losses amongst yourselves. It also has the added advantage of pulling your resources together, to make the transition from formal employment to freelancing easier.

The Australian government recognizes the following types of partnerships.

General Partnership (GP)

In a GP, all partners have equal business responsibility. Moreover, each partner has unlimited liability for all their business obligations. Most freelancers opt for GP because they are actively involved in the business.

Limited Partnership (LP)

In an LP, each general partner’s liability is limited to the amount of money they have contributed to the LP. As a Limited Partner, you are likely to be a passive investor, without a role in the daily activities of the business.

Incorporated Limited Partnership (ILP)

An ILP is made up of at least one general partner. However, the rest of the partners have limited business obligations. In the event that the business fails to meet its obligations, the general partner becomes personally liable for the shortfall.

Overall, if you freelance in a partnership, you will require a separate tax file number (TFN), an Australian Business Number (ABN), and file a partnership tax return with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), annually.

You also need to register for a Goods and Services Tax (GST), if your turnover exceeds $75,000. There are other partnership laws you need to consider, and they vary for different states and territories.

You may need to check for specific partnership laws in your state because they are different in different states.

3. Limited Company

You can also work legally as a freelancer in Australia if you start your company. One of the major benefits of a company is it is treated like a business entity, unlike a sole trader or partnership.

It can incur debt, pay its taxes, record profits, sue and get sued, and conduct all other business activities, just as a natural person.

However, as an officer or director of the company, you still have to adhere to legal obligations when running the company, under Australia’s Corporations Act 2001. Your company must register for GST, once its turnover exceeds $75,000.

As a company director, you must keep proper financial records, and comply with all legal obligations as the company’s director. You must also update ASIC within 28 days if you make key changes in the company details.

How to Register a Freelance Business in Australia

Register for an ABN

As a freelancer working and getting paid legally in Australia, you will need an ABN. The ABN has 11 digits and is used to identify you to other businesses, the government, as well as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

You can get it from the Australian Business Register, which issues it to all businesses.

Requirements to apply for an ABN:

  • You look for your own clients.
  • Set up a separate bank account for your business.
  • Your bill and invoice for all your work.
  • Have business insurance, such as a WorkCover and public liability.

Freelancing without an ABN

If you fail to quote your ABN when invoicing Australian businesses, they can legally withhold up 47% of the payment. Furthermore, if your earning exceeds $75,000, then you need to register for a GST, which needs an ABN.

Freelancer Taxes in Australia

There are a few similarities when reporting your taxes as a sole trader or a company. There are also key differences, which you need to be aware of. Read on to discover these key differences.

Freelance Sole Trader and Partnership Taxes

Individual freelancers enjoy a tax-free threshold, which is a good thing if you are just starting your freelance career. As a sole trader or in a partnership, you qualify for a tax-free threshold. In the 2019-20 financial year, the threshold was set to $18,200.

You need to lodge your tax returns by 31 October, for each financial year, which runs from 1 July to 30 June. To lodge your taxes, you need to link to ATO online, through your myGov account.

The amount of tax you pay will depend on whether you exceed the tax-free threshold, and by how much. You can view rates for each tax bracket here, as well as tools for calculating the tax due and tax withheld.

Company Taxes for Freelancers

Companies do not get a tax-free threshold and instead must pay for every dollar the company earns. Currently, companies that are not base-rate entities, pay a tax rate of 30%. Companies lodge their tax returns as separate legal entities.

Therefore, as a director, shareholder, or employee, you must also lodge your own tax returns separately.

When lodging a company tax return, the returns must indicate the company name, deductions, as well as the company income tax due. Currently, company taxes are lodged manually, by downloading and filling a company tax return forms.

The forms are then mailed to the ATO’s Postal address in the state’s or territory’s capital city.

You check this link for more information on individual or company tax returns, capital gains tax (CGT), small business entity concessions, taxes and superannuation, and payroll tax.

Freelance Tax Deductions

You can deduct your freelance expenses from the tax if your expenses qualify as business expenses. These should be expenses you would not have incurred, had you not been working from your business office or home office.

Furthermore, your freelance office must not share resources with your home, if you plan to claim the expenses like deductibles.

Common Tax Deductions for freelancers:

  • Office space rent/mortgage
  • Office equipment costs up to $1000 annually.
  • Asset or tools depreciation over a number of years, if their cost exceeds $1000
  • Office Utility Bills such internet, electricity, and water.

Choose Your Business Location

As a freelancer, you have greater freedom to choose where to work from. We recommend that you choose to work from a state or territory with favorable business laws for your type of business.

Other factors to consider include the cost of living, business opportunities if you cannot work remotely, and your future business plans.

Work as Freelancer in Australia – Frequently Asked Questions

Working in Australia as a freelancer can be rewarding. However, you need to keep in mind several freelance requirements in Australia. Read on to discover some of the questions freelancers ask us about Australia.

Can I Work as a Freelancer in Australia?

Yes, Australia allows you to work as a freelancer. However, you must first register for an Australian Business Number (ABN). This will allow you to make timely tax payments, in case your income exceeds AUD 75k a year.

You will also need to have documentation that allows you to work in Australia. However, if you are an Australian citizen, then you don’t need such documentation. Instead, any document that proves you are an Australian citizen is enough to prove you are working legally.

How Do Freelancers Pay Tax in Australia?

The way freelancers pay their tax in Australia depends on how they conduct their work or business. For instance, if you work alone, you only need to file tax once using your ABN.

However, if you are working as a freelancer in a partnership, then you have to file your taxes using two tax numbers. The first number is your ABN, while the other one is the tax file number (TFN).

And as we mentioned above, you need to pay a Goods and Services Tax (GST), if your partnership turnover exceeds $75,000.

How Can I Find Freelance Work in Australia?

You can find freelance work in Australia using two main methods. The first one is using third-party platforms that bring freelancers and businesses together. The second method is by directly contacting potential customers.

The first method is easier if you need to get immediate clients. Your potential clients will already be looking for your services on those platforms. Such platforms include,,, and

The second option will take you time to land clients, but it is still worth trying. However, it is likely to get you, well-paying clients. That’s because you can keep the entire fee they pay for your services. You are also likely to face less competition from fellow freelancers.

Do I Need an ABN as a Freelancer?

Yes, you need an ABN as a freelancer in Australia. You fill it to file your taxes at the end of the year. And even if you don’t meet the tax threshold to file your taxes, your clients may ask you for it.

Your clients will need it to account for any funds they pay you. Moreover, if you project that your earning will exceed AUD 75K, you should also register for GST.

Freelancing Websites in Australia

In general, there are not many freelancing websites that are localized to Australia. Instead, Australians can access freelancing services that people from other parts of the world can use. Nonetheless, some freelancing services are localized to the country. Some of the most popular localized Australian platforms are and Other popular freelancing websites include:

  • Upwork;
  • Fiverr;
  • Toptal;
  • 99Designs;

However, each of these platforms offers Australians different experiences. A platform like Upwork allows users to work on fixed or hourly contracts. Nonetheless, a freelancer can offer their service in a gig format. On the other hand, Fiverr offers users a different experience. Freelancers only provide their services in a gig format. In either case, freelancers from Australia can receive their payments directly into their bank accounts. In addition, these individuals may be required to provide tax information or risk paying a 30% withholding tax.

How to Become a Freelance Writer in Australia

As an Australian, there are lots of opportunities of becoming a freelance writer. Pursuing this career pathway can give you the chance to fulfill your lifelong dream of creating content.

Getting Started

To begin your journey, you must evaluate your writing experience. If you own a blog or write articles, this experience is invaluable to your career. If you have no experience with writing, you will have to exercise your creative muscle. In addition, it is beneficial to read a lot about writing while creating content.

Create a Portfolio

If you have a blog, this site can operate as your portfolio. However, if you do not have such a website, you will want to create a portfolio. A collection of content will give you articles you can present to clients who want to evaluate your writing capacity. Yet, you should ensure the quality of work in your portfolio is top-notch if you want to convivence customers to work with you.

Look for Work

Getting your first job as a freelancer can be daunting. So, you can take the edge off by starting on freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. These websites can help you gain credibility before you move to better platforms. Alternatively, you may choose to open a writing agency if you want to make name for yourself. In addition, you will have to put in extra work to become successful in this competitive environment.

Self-Employment Tax in Australia

Like in most countries, self-employed Australians are required to pay taxes for the income they make from freelancing. The tax for self-employed in Australia for a freelancer depends on their income and deduction claims. In some cases, freelancers may be required to pay a maximum of 45% in tax. However, a freelancer can benefit from tax-free regulation of the country.

How to Pay Tax on ABN

Freelancers that choose to get an ABN (Australian Business Number) can do so via the Australian Business Register. The entire process can be done online and it is also easy to complete.

Conclusion – Working Legally as a Freelancer in Australia

To work legally in Australia you start by getting your ABN, to avoid being subjected to high tax withholding rates, and to streamline your tax lodging process. You also need to choose a business type that will make it easy for you to lodge taxes.

Getting your taxes right from the beginning will also make it easy to attract funding from potential investors if you need it. Finally, you need to create a tax account with ATO, so that you can be lodging and paying your taxes on time.

We hope that you found this freelancing in Australia guide to be informative. Have you had any unique experiences while freelancing in Australia? Please share them in the comments section below.


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