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Getting paid

When will my business get paid?

The payment terms will be contained in the contract between your business and the Government organisation.

The most common payment terms are 30 days after satisfactory delivery of the goods or services AND receipt of a correctly rendered invoice.

If the contract allows for it, you may be paid progressively for satisfactory completion of the work. This is commonly called milestone payment. In this case, the contract will indicate dates or work completion targets that must be met before you can submit your invoice for payment. Milestone invoices are paid under the same terms.

How will my business get paid?

The Australian Government prefers to pay by electronic funds transfer (EFT) directly to your business’s bank account.

For amounts up to $10,000, the Australian Government may prefer to pay by credit card if your business offers this facility. It is not a requirement that your business offers credit card facilities.

Do I have to use a particular format for my invoice?

No, you can use your normal invoice format as long as it meets requirements for a correctly rendered invoice. It is very important to provide a properly rendered invoice because the Government’s usual payment terms are 30 days after receipt of a properly rendered invoice. If there are errors or omissions on your invoice, your payment may be delayed.

What is a correctly rendered invoice?

Your contract will define the specific requirements for a correctly rendered invoice and the typical inclusions are shown below. Some important things to note from the contract are the name, work title and address of the person to whom you must send invoices, and whether you can send the invoice electronically.

The specific requirements for a correctly rendered invoice may vary a little from entity to entity, but will usually include the following items:

  • the identity of the supplier, such as the business name
  • the ABN of the supplier
  • the date of issue of the invoice
  • that the document is intended as a tax invoice, such as including the words ‘tax invoice’ on the invoice
  • an invoice number shown prominently on the invoice
  • the purchaser’s identity, such as name, or ABN, for goods or services costing $1,000 or more
  • a units of supply
  • The description of the goods or services provided
  • The quantity provided
  • The per unit cost
  • The amount of GST that has been included (if relevant)
  • The total amount to be paid
  • The payment terms (usually 30 days after receipt by the Government organisation of a correctly rendered invoice)
  • The name and contact details of the relevant Government official that manages the contract
  • The purchase order, work order, official order or the contract reference
  • Details of how the Government can make payment to your business, for example your bank account details or instructions for credit card payment.

Most of this information is already required if you are registered for GST so it should not be too much extra work to provide a correctly rendered invoice.

I’m a small business. What happens if I don’t get paid on time?

It does not matter what size your business is, if you have satisfactorily delivered the goods and services subject to your contract, and have submitted a correctly rendered invoice, you are entitled to be paid on time. Where payment is not made within the maximum payment terms, the Government organisation is required to pay interest to your business if the amount of interest accrued is more than A$10.

Interest will not be payable if your business does not submit a correctly rendered invoice that meets the requirements of the written contract, including a purchase order contract. Interest will also not be payable where your business has not satisfactorily delivered the goods or services.

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Tip

You can find an interest calculator at http://www.finance.gov.au/archive/procurement/late_invoice_calculator.html

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What if there is dispute about my invoice?

It is Australian Government policy to pay the undisputed part of an invoice within the normal payment terms.

The Government organisation is required to let you know as soon as practicable if there is an issue with your invoice so that you can address the problem and get paid.

You can help minimise invoice disputes by:

  • carefully following the requirements laid down in your contract for a correctly rendered invoice
  • checking all details on the invoice are correct before submitting your invoice (for example quantities, per unit costs, total costs, tax codes for GST or GST free products)
  • talking regularly with the Government organisation contract manager to be sure that s/he is satisfied with the work you have provided
  • promptly fixing any errors detected on your invoices

Case Studies

Bringing unique Indigenous flavours to the government

Indigenous catering company Bandu is a great example of a small business that’s doing big business with the Australian Government.