Sole Traders: Your questions answered

A lot of people who are self-employed are claiming a Centrelink payment for the first time. We’ve put together our top frequently asked questions to help you out.

1. How do I tell you about my income?

For most sole traders, we assess income you earn from your business separately to any other employment income you might have.

We need some information from you so we can assess your business income and assets:

  • Business details form (MOD F).
  • your most recent personal tax return,
  • your most recent profit and loss statement,
  • your most recent balance sheet or a list of your business assets and liabilities and
  • a recent depreciation schedule.

You may have already given us these as part of your claim, in which case, you won’t need to provide them again right now.

We’ll use the information you give us to work out an annual income amount, which we’ll then use to work out your fortnightly rate of payment.

You’ll also need to give us your income tax return and financial statements each year within 14 days of them being prepared.

Tell us within 14 days if there are any changes to your business income or assets. To do this, you’ll need to give us:

  • An updated profit and loss statement if your business income has changed, or
  • An updated balance sheet if your business assets have changed.

Each fortnight, we’ll still ask you to report your and your partner’s (if you have one) employment income, even if it’s zero. You don’t need to include any income you or your partner earn from your business when you do this.

It’s easy to do this online using your Centrelink online account via myGov, or in the Express Plus Centrelink app. You can also report using phone self-service.

A note for contractors:

There are some circumstances where we might classify you as an employee, even if you run a business. If we’ve determined that you’re an employee, you’ll only need to report your employment income fortnightly. You won’t need to provide profit and loss statements.

If you’re not sure whether we classify you as self-employed or an employee, please call us to speak to a staff member.

2. How do I tell you about my partner’s income?

If your partner is a sole trader, you’ll need to tell us about their business income the same way you’d report your own business income to us (see the steps above).

If you’re a sole trader, and your partner isn’t, you can tell us about their employment income as part of your fortnightly report.

3. How do I tell you about income from JobKeeper Payment?

If you’ve applied for JobKeeper Payment as a sole trader, we treat this as business income.

If your overall business profit has changed:

  • Upload an updated profit and loss statement, including any income from JobKeeper Payment

If your overall business profit hasn’t changed:

  • You don’t need to do anything
  • If your business profit changes in future, you’ll need to update this as usual

If there’s a change to your business profit and you don’t report the change in business income you may get a debt you’ll need to pay back.

4. How do I meet my mutual obligations?  

We recently expanded eligibility for JobSeeker Payment, which means newly eligible sole traders and self-employed people won’t need to meet normal mutual obligation requirements. Instead, you’ll be able to meet your requirements by focusing on running and rebuilding your business.

More information