Tax Issues - Australia Only

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Do I Charge GST On Overseas Jobs?

Generally speaking, exported sales are ex-GST

A lot of photographers find themselves working overseas or sending products overseas and so the question about GST arises: do you need to charge your client GST?

Generally the answer is no, but it depends on a number of issues and we’ll touch on the most obvious ones here.

Are You Registered?

If your annual sales (turnover) as a photographer is over $75,000, then you must be registered for GST. If your turnover is less than this, then you may choose not to be registered, and so this issue won’t affect you. you’re not charging GST anyway.

Is The Work Exported?

If you’re shooting the job overseas for a client who lives overseas, and the work stays overseas, then no GST is payable, in Australia at least. you may, of course, be subject to the foreign country’s own tax laws.

If you shoot the job in Australia, but the photographs are taken out of the country by your clients, or you send them out of the country to your clients, then chances are the job is not subject to GST.

So, a wedding photographer who shoots a couple in Melbourne and sends the final album to Hong Kong will find the work is exempt from GST (subject to time restrictions - see below).

Similarly, a commercial photographer shooting a building in Sydney for a client in Dubai would not need to charge the client GST because the images are exported.

However, if the client in Dubai used the photographs here in Australia, then GST would be payable - the goods (photos) are not exported. The fact that the client is overseas isn’t the issue, it’s whether the goods or services are exported.

Time Limit

The ATO requires the photographs or services to be exported within 60 days of you issuing an invoice, or within 60 days of the final payment for your invoice, whichever is the earliest.

This normally isn’t a problem for a commercial or portraiture job, but it could cause some issues for wedding photographers because of the length of time over which the wedding is booked, shot and an album or DVD produced.

If you issue an invoice more than 60 days out from the provision of the wedding album, then you may be subject to GST.

It may be possible to split the invoices between the shoot and the album production, or you can also contact the ATO and ask for it to extend the 60-day period.

This is general information only. We do not know your specific financial or legal situation and we are not providing you with advice. As such, this article should not be relied upon as legal, financial or accounting advice. Please use this article as a conversation starter with your own adviser.

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