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PAYG instalments explained

By Emma Brooke and Carissa Gunston

Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalments is a system for making regular payments towards your expected annual income tax liability. It only applies to you if you earn business and/or investment income over a certain amount.

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Who pays instalments?

The PAYG instalment system applies to tax paying entities, which are generally individuals, companies and super funds.

When will you enter the PAYG instalment system?

This will generally happen following the lodgment of your Income Tax Return, where your business or investment income exceeds the relevant threshold.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will contact you to notify you of this, and will then issue you with quarterly (or in some cases, annual) instalment notices. If you’re already lodging Business Activity Statements (BASs), a new label for PAYG instalments will be included on your quarterly BASs.

How much will you have to pay?

The instalment rate or amount issued to you by the ATO is generally based on historical information, being your most recent Income Tax Return lodged. It’s also based on the number of periods remaining in the current financial year – for example, if $10,000 in annual instalments is spread over only 2 remaining quarters of the financial year, you can expect to pay instalments of $5,000 per quarter for those 2 quarters.

What if things have changed this year?

If your circumstances are a bit different this year (for example, your income is lower), you are able to vary your instalment amount or rate. However, if you’re varying down, you must be able to accurately estimate your tax liability for the year, and be careful not to vary too low, as you can be penalised for doing so. At GTC Financial, we catch up with some of our clients quarterly for tax planning, and some annually, to stay on top of this, and to help them understand their estimated tax positions for the year.

For more information on PAYG instalments visit the ATO website

If you’d like help with PAYG instalment planning, or if you’d just like to know a bit more about the PAYG instalment system, you can email your questions to


By Emma Brooke, Financial Adviser, GTC Financial and Carissa Gunston, Client Manager, GTC Financial

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