GST Exempt in Australia: Ultimate Guide to Tax-Free Goods & Services

GST Exempt in Australia: Ultimate Guide to Tax-Free Goods & Services

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a tax that is levied on most goods and services sold in Australia. It is a value-added tax that is collected by businesses on behalf of the Australian government. GST is currently set at a rate of 10%. However, there are some exemptions to the GST that businesses and individuals should be aware of. In this Business Kitz blog post, we will provide a comprehensive guide to the GST exemption in Australia, including what it is, when it applies, and how it works.

What is GST exemption?

GST exemption is a provision in the Australian tax system that allows certain goods and services to be exempt from GST. This means that businesses do not have to charge GST on these items, and individuals do not have to pay GST when they purchase them. GST exemption is designed to make some essential goods and services more affordable for individuals and to reduce the tax burden on businesses.

How does GST exemption work?

If a business sells goods or services that are exempt from GST, they do not need to charge GST on those items. However, businesses that sell both GST-exempt items and items that are subject to GST will need to separate their sales and keep accurate records of their GST-free and taxable sales.

Individuals who purchase goods or services that are exempt from GST do not need to pay GST on those items. However, it is important to note that businesses are not required to pass on the savings from GST exemption to their customers. This means that even if a business does not charge GST on an item, they may still charge the same price as they would for a similar item that is subject to GST.

It is also worth noting that some items may be GST-free rather than GST-exempt. GST-free items are still subject to GST, but the rate is set at 0%. This means that businesses must still include GST-free items in their calculations for GST purposes.

What categories of Goods and Services are GST exempt?

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the following categories of goods and services are exempt from GST:

  • Most basic foods, such as bread, milk, vegetables, and meat
  • Some education and childcare services
  • Some medical, health, and care services
  • Religious services and some charitable activities
  • Some precious metals
  • Residential rent
  • Some financial services, such as loans and insurance
  • Some input-taxed supplies, such as residential accommodation and some education services

It is important to note that some goods and services may be partially exempt from GST. For example, some food items, such as restaurant meals and take-away food, are subject to GST, while others, such as basic groceries, are exempt.

Are their any circumstances in which customers may be exempt from paying GST?

In addition to exempt goods and services, customers may also be exempt from paying GST under certain circumstances. The following are some examples of situations in which customers may be exempt from paying GST:

1. Exports:

Goods and services that are exported from Australia are generally exempt from GST. This is because GST is a domestic tax, and it is not intended to be levied on goods and services that are consumed outside of Australia. However, businesses that export goods and services may still need to pay other taxes and charges, such as customs duties and export fees.

2. Low-value imported goods:

Since July 1, 2018, goods that are imported into Australia with a customs value of $1,000 or less are generally exempt from GST. This exemption is intended to simplify the collection of GST on low-value imported goods, which previously required customs and border protection agencies to collect and process the tax.

3. Second-hand goods:

If a business sells second-hand goods that were purchased from an individual who is not registered for GST, the business may be exempt from paying GST on the sale of those goods. This is because the individual who sold the goods would not have charged GST when they initially purchased the items.

4. Charitable donations:

If a customer makes a donation to a registered charity, they may be exempt from paying GST on the donation. However, the charity must provide a tax invoice that indicates that no GST has been charged on the donation.

5. Input-taxed supplies:

Some goods and services are considered input-taxed, which means that they are not subject to GST. If a business sells goods or services that are input-taxed, they may be exempt from paying GST on those sales. Examples of input-taxed supplies include residential rent and financial services.


In conclusion, understanding GST exemptions is essential for businesses and individuals in Australia. While GST is a tax that is levied on most goods and services sold in Australia, there are several exemptions and circumstances where individuals and businesses may be exempt from paying GST. From exports to low-value imported goods, second-hand goods to charitable donations, businesses and individuals need to be aware of the circumstances in which GST exemption may apply. By understanding these exemptions, businesses can ensure they are accurately charging and collecting GST, while individuals can save money on essential goods and services. Overall, staying informed about GST exemptions is crucial to ensure compliance with the tax system and make informed financial decisions.

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