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Start a home-based business

Know the limitations and use the advantages.

On this page

  • What qualifies as home-based
  • Registrations, licences and insurance
  • Tax guide
  • Set up contact information
  • Help from your local council

What is a home-based business?

Most active small businesses are start-ups, independent contractors or sole proprietors where people operate a business at or from home.

A home-based business can be:

  • the base for a business e.g. a tradesperson working out of their home base and onsite at the client’s premises
  • the place of business e.g. a hairdresser working mainly at their own home
  • a consultant or contractors with a home office, often visiting clients
  • the base for an online business.

Registrations and licences

Make sure your home is a suitable location, especially if you'll have clients visiting.

When working from home some businesses require special registrations or licences, as well as a council planning permit.

Australian Business Licence and Information Service

Contact your local council for further advice on planning permits and other local requirements.

Insuring a home-based business

A common misunderstanding among home-based businesses is that because they’re operating from home, they believe they are adequately covered by a domestic Home and Contents insurance policy. Read Find the right insurance for more details.

Tax deductions for a home-based business

There are two types of deductible expenses, running and occupancy expenses. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) allows you to claim two these two types of expenses normally associated with running your home. If you set aside a specific work area then you can claim both. If you haven't set aside an area just for the business, then you can only claim running expenses.

Home-based business running costs include electricity, printer consumables, cleaning, phone costs.

Home-based business occupancy expenses include rent, mortgage interest, insurance premiums, council rates.

The ATO website has a range of online guides and calculators to assist small businesses with their tax obligations.

Home based business tax guide

Also, the cost of travel for business purposes is usually deductible, so you may be able to claim the cost of trips between your home and other places if the trips are business related.

Beware of Capital Gains Tax

Be aware that if you use part of the home for a business, you may have to pay capital gains tax when you sell the house, even if you didn't claim any deductions for mortgage interest or occupancy costs when you ran the business. Check the details on the ATO website or a tax professional.

Contact information for your home business

You will need to provide contact information for your clients, suppliers, invoices and receipts. If you do not have customers and clients visiting then you may want to avoid providing your home address.

PO Box

Set up a post office box or locked bag with Australia Post. Aus Post also offers a paid notification service, Mail2Day™, so you'll be updated when mail needs to be collected

Private mailbox

You will receive a street number address if you want to avoid offering a PO Box as your address.

Virtual office

This option can simply provide a street address and answering service, but can also provide printing, copying and courier services as well as boardroom and meeting room hire. There are many business centres offering virtual office facilities across Victoria.

Phone

You may need an extra phone line for business calls. A separate phone line helps keep business costs separate for taxes and reporting. An answering service can help provide a professional appearance if you are busy with a client, or on the road and unable to answer your phone.

Use your local council

Council websites often have information about business activity in their area and support for home-based businesses. This can be a good way to work out who is your competition and plan how you'll market your products or services. Go to Find your Local Council for details of all Victorian councils including their websites.