Is Your Hobby A Business?

Is Your Hobby A Business?
  • There are some key differences between a hobby and a business - the most important ones relating to your legal, tax and insurance obligations.
  • Hobbies are generally pastime activities that you do for fun, whereas a business activity focuses on making a profit.
  • Read on to learn more about the differences between hobbies and businesses and the relevant steps you should take if your pastime activity becomes a business.

With the growing popularity of social commerce websites such as Etsy or even the accessibility to affordable e-commerce website development, many people are turning their hobbies into lucrative businesses.

However, not knowing if you’re in actual business or not can be quite risky.

Is Your Hobby A Business?

So why does it matter whether your activity is a business? Because, if you are making any money from your activity, it is classed as assessable income.

According to the Australian tax office (ATO), assessable income is income that can be taxed provided you earn enough to exceed your tax free threshold. 

What are some examples of assessable income?

Examples of assessable income are:

  • Salary and wages
  • Interest from bank accounts
  • Dividends and other income from investments
  • Bonuses and overtime an employee receives
  • Commission a salesperson receives
  • Pensions
  • Rent

What are some example of hobbies that could constitute a business?

Some examples of hobbies or activities which may constitute a business include:

  • Tradesmen
  • Jewellery makers
  • Landscapers
  • Bakers
  • Dressmakers 

With this in mind you are entitled and in some cases even obligated to receive an Australian business number (ABN) and you can or must register for goods and services tax (GST) if your annual from your business activities income reaches or exceeds $75,000.

If you are carrying on a business, you are eligible to claim tax deductions for allowable expenses you acquire in creating this income.  Also, if your business results in a loss, you may be able to counterbalance the loss against other income or carry it forward to offset against future income.  This reduces the income tax you may have to pay in the future.

How do I know if my hobby is a business?

There is no simple, structured formula for assessing whether you are in business or not as each case is different.  If you are wondering whether your hobby is a business ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your hobby or activity have a commercial nature or purpose?
  • Do you have more than just intent to run a business?
  • Do you have a purpose of profit and or a prospect for profit?
  • Is the activity you engage in repetitious and consistent?
  • Do other businesses in your industry carry on activity in a same or similar manner as you?
  • Do you manage your hobby in the same way you would a business?
  • Does your hobby or activity have traits of scope, scale and longevity?
  • Do you sell the products of your hobby through a retail outlet?

If you answer yes to any of these questions you are closer to stating that your hobby or activity would be better described as a business.  Although no one single indicator is conclusive, a combination of them may point you in an accurate and fitting direction.

Here is an example of a hobby vs. a business:

Jenna knits. She is especially good at knitting jumpers and she does so for about 4 hours a week. Sometimes her sister will ask Jenna to knit a jumper for a small price. In this case, even though she will take the money, is not knitting for a profit or a regular basis. This is just a hobby.

Here is an example of a business vs. a hobby:

Jenna knits 30 jumpers a month. She has a contract with a local retailer to supply 15 jumpers per month and the other 15 she sells through her e-bay shop.  In this case Jenna makes a steady and relatively profitable income making her hobby a taxable business.

Remember, If you are considered to be carrying on a business you must declare any income earned by the business.

If you ascertain that you are in business you must apply for an A.B.N.
Next, you should choose an appropriate name for your business and register the business name.

Next, secure a domain name closely matching your business name.

Best of luck with your venture!

Please don't be shy to ask questions!

Gosia Slotala

Marketing Manager at

Hi! I'm a Marketing Manager for Shelcom - a Corporate Service Provider in business for over 26 years. My passion in helping entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, partnerships, etc., set up their business legally and without hassle. I love helping people understand the procedures and legalities of establishing enterprise in Australia. On a daily basis I help individuals with anything from ABN registration and business registration, to more complex issues such as corporate structures, trusts and SMSF's.