What is a business?

Question 1 of 3

Business facts

A business is any activity where goods or services are sold with the intention of making a profit. The business calculates profit by deducting expenses from the income earned by the business. The profit earned from these activities is taxed.

A business can be set up using one of a number of legal structures, for example, sole trader, partnership, company and trust.

If an activity has not been set up with the aim of making a profit, it is considered to be a hobby. Unlike a business, money received from a hobby is not taxed, and the expenses incurred cannot be claimed as deductions.

The following example demonstrates the distinction between businesses and hobbies.

Madison loves horse riding. She decides that she will set up a horse riding school to teach young people how to ride. This will be her main occupation, so it will be considered a business. She will be taxed on the income earned and can claim the allowable expenses of running the business.

However, if Madison has a regular job as a bank teller and only teaches horse riding at weekends for a friend’s children, this is regarded as a hobby. This means any money she gets from the lessons is not regarded as assessable income and is not subject to tax. She is also unable to claim any of the related expenses as tax deductions.

  • Fact 26

    The introduction of electronic lodgement of tax forms in the late 1980s not only reduced the time it took to send out returns from ten weeks to two weeks but had a significant impact on the incidence of repetitive strain injury among data processors at the ATO.

Stamp duty

A tax levied by state and territory governments on the purchases of certain assets, for example, property.

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