Do you have to declare eBay sales?

Selling items online is an effective way to make some extra money. Maria wants to sell on eBay and would like to know if she has to declare her earnings to the Australian Tax Office.

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Q. Maria

I have a lot of old books, clothes and stuff in the shed I want to sell online. It would be nice to go on a holiday with the proceeds. But I want to know if I have to tell the tax office if I make any money selling my things on eBay. Do I have to declare online sales?

A. If you are on an Age Pension, Centrelink has access to your bank account, so any money going in will naturally be tracked. However, as long as you are only selling the odd item, you should be fine. Still, you should check with Human Services about the specifics.

If you are not receiving an Age Pension, and you are selling as a hobby and not a business, then it may not be considered ‘income’ as such and, therefore, not necessarily be taxed.

But what’s the difference between selling as a hobby and a business?

Well, if you are clearing some space and want to see if you can flog a few books online, then that could be considered a hobby. However, if you sell those books then start going to op shops to buy more books with the intention of reselling them on eBay, then you are operating as a business.

According to the ATO, there are quite a few other ‘guidelines’ to note as well. Some of which are:

  • Is your main intention to make a profit?
  • Do you make repeated sales?
  • Do you advertise your online selling activity?
  • Do you have a business name or eBay store?

Suffice to say, there’s not a simple answer, so it’s probably best to check the ATO website for more information about whether your specific online selling activities constitute a hobby or business, or income you need to declare to the tax office.

All content on YourLifeChoice’ website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

Related articles:
Taxman gunning for online sellers
Limits for selling on eBay
How to sell online

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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