Australia6 Types of Business Structures in Australia in 2024

March 11, 2024by Tetra Consultants0
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  • Business structures in Australia play a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of a new venture, impacting tax liabilities and regulatory obligations throughout its lifespan. At the forefront of establishing a new firm lies the critical decision of selecting the appropriate business structure, a choice with far-reaching implications for taxation and reporting requirements. In Australia, entrepreneurs have a diverse array of legitimate business structures to choose from, allowing them to tailor their selection to suit their specific needs and circumstances.  
  • Whether to register company in Australia, set up a trust, form a partnership, operate as a sole proprietorship, or establish a proprietary or public company, the decision requires careful consideration of various factors. These factors include the scale of the operation, the nature of the business activities, projected revenue streams, and future growth prospects.  
  • In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of each business structure available in Australia, exploring their unique advantages and disadvantages. By examining the distinct characteristics and implications of each business entity, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions when embarking on their business journey in Australia. Whether aiming for a seamless company registration in Australia or seeking to navigate the complexities of different legal entities, this guide serves as a valuable resource for aspiring business owners. 

Types of business structures in Australia 

Sole proprietorship 

  • Opting for a sole trading business presents a cost-effective and straightforward avenue for individuals. By operating under one’s own name, the necessity for a separate business identity is eliminated. Registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN) streamlines transactions and exempts payments from withholding tax. Sole traders can manage transactions through personal bank accounts but are required to maintain financial records for at least five years. If annual turnovers exceed AU$75,000, Goods and Services Tax (GST) registration becomes obligatory, with quarterly tax instalments determined by anticipated income. Deductible personal fund contributions are permissible, except for wages classified as business income for tax purposes. 

Proprietary Limited Company (Pty Ltd) 

  • In Australia, a proprietary limited company establishes a distinct legal entity, providing limited liability to its founders and members beyond their invested share capital. Founders can act as sole directors and shareholders, conducting business under the company’s name. Conversely, public companies can raise capital by selling shares on a stock exchange.  
  • The most prevalent business structure, the Proprietary Limited Company (Pty Ltd), akin to a Limited Liability Company (LLC) elsewhere, is favored by foreign investors for its straightforward legal status. Governed by the Australia Corporations Act 2001, Pty Ltd requires at least one shareholder and up to 50 non-employee shareholders, offering limited liability and perpetual existence despite ownership changes. Pty Ltds must annually file tax returns with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and register for Goods and Services Tax (GST) if turnover exceeds $75,000. 
  • A minimum of one local director. 
  • For public company a minimum of 3 directors in which minimum of 2 directors must be resident of Australia. 
  • A minimum of one shareholder without residency requirement. 
  • Public companies can have multiple shareholders without a maximum cap. 
  • There is no limit on the number of shares a private company can issue, as long as they are controlled by no more than 50 shareholders. 
  • A company must have a registered office in Australia where it can receive official correspondence and notices. 
  • Public companies must have at least one secretary who is ordinarily resident in Australia. 
  • If you are seeking a business structure in Australia that accommodates variable revenue and allows for the utilization of current losses to offset future profits, consider an Australian LLC. Tetra Consultants facilitates seamless setup, providing crucial identifiers such as the Australian Company Number (ACN), Australian Business Number (ABN), and Tax File Number (TFN), alongside tax registration services for ongoing compliance. Additionally, Tetra Consultants offer comprehensive accounting and tax obligation services. Moreover, our experts provide nominee director and shareholder services to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. 

Partnership 

  • Partnership, a business structure involving multiple partners sharing profits and losses, is favored by investors in Australia for its straightforward setup and minimal reporting requirements. Three types of partnerships exist:  
  • General Partnership (GP), Limited Partnership (LP), and Incorporated Limited Partnership (ILP). Each type requires obtaining separate Tax File Numbers (TFNs) and Australia Business Numbers (ABNs) and filing an annual Partnership Tax Return with the ATO. In a General Partnership (GP), partners have unlimited liability for debts. In contrast, a Limited Partnership (LP) offers limited liability based on stated contributions. The Incorporated Limited Partnership (ILP) combines aspects of both, with limited liability for partners but unlimited liability for at least one general partner in case of debt exceeding limited partner contributions. 

Trusts 

  • A trust, consisting of a trustee and beneficiary, entrusts legal responsibility for business assets to the trustee, benefiting the beneficiary. Unlike distinct entities, trusts exempt beneficiaries from personal income tax on trust earnings. Establishing a trust entail drafting a deed and incurring fixed and variable costs. Unlike LLCs or Pty Ltd companies, trusts do not require Companies Registrar registration, ensuring heightened privacy. Nevertheless, trustees must fulfill annual administrative duties. Tetra Consultants offers comprehensive company registration services, including offshore company incorporation, to facilitate trust establishment and compliance. 
  • Various statutory requirements for trusts are as follows: 
  • The trust deed outlines trustee responsibilities, administration, and powers. 
  • The trust utilizes its own Tax File Number for tax returns, covering profit, deductions, and distributions. 
  • Operating under its own ABN, the trust requires GST registration if annual income surpasses AU$75,000 (AU$ 150,000 for non-profits). 
  • Beneficiaries make pay-as-you-go instalments on trust distributions; no tax applies if revenue benefits adult Australian beneficiaries. 

Branch office 

  • A branch office functions as an extension of the parent company, aiming to establish its presence in Australia, with the parent company assuming complete liability for the Australian branch’s obligations. Registration with the Australian Business Register (ABR) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is mandatory for the parent company, which must also appoint a local registered secretary. Annual submission of financial statements, along with necessary documentation from the parent company’s home country, is required by ASIC. Tetra Consultants offer corporate bank account opening services to streamline the establishment and operation of branches in Australia. 

Representative offices 

  • A representative office acts as a platform for foreign investors who are not directly involved in business operations within Australia. Instead, they focus on non-commercial activities such as market research and marketing efforts for their parent company. This structure is preferred by foreign investors seeking to establish a presence and evaluate market potential before fully engaging in operations in Australia. 

Conclusion 

  • Choosing the right business structure in Australia is crucial for achieving long-term success and compliance with regulatory requirements. Tetra Consultants stand ready to assist with a comprehensive range of services tailored to meet your specific needs. From legal drafting of necessary documents to name reservations and more, our expertise ensures a seamless process for establishing your business presence in Australia. With Tetra Consultants by your side, you can navigate the complexities of business structures with confidence, setting a solid foundation for growth and prosperity in the Australian market. 
  • Contact us to know more about business structures in Australia and our experts will revert back in 24 hours. 

Tetra Consultants

Tetra Consultants is the consulting firm that works as your advisor and trusted partner in your business expansion. We tell our clients what they need to know, instead of what they want to hear. Most importantly, we are known for being a one-stop solution for our valued clients. Contact us now at enquiry@tetraconsultants.com for a non-obligatory free consultation. Our team of experts will be in touch with you within the next 24 hours.

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