8161.0.55.001 - Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register, Counts of Businesses - Summary Tables, Jun 2004  
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Australian Business Number (ABN)

The ABR was established under Section 24 of A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 legislation.

The ABN is a unique business entity identifier introduced to assist with dealings with the Australian government. A business entity is entitled to an ABN if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • a company registered under corporations law in Australia;
  • a government department or agency; or
  • an entity carrying on an enterprise in Australia.

The ABN is the statistical unit used to represent businesses, and for which statistics are reported, in most cases. The ABN unit is the business unit which has registered for an ABN, and thus appears on the Australian Tax Office (ATO) administered ABR. In most cases, the ABN unit represents the legal entity. This unit is suitable for ABS statistical needs when the business is simple in structure. For more significant and diverse businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical needs, the statistical unit used is the Type of Activity Unit (TAU).

Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABSBR)

The ABSBR consists of two sub-populations, the Australian Bureau of Statistics maintained population (ABSMP) and the Australian Tax Office maintained population (ATOMP). The ABSBR uses an economic statistics unit model to describe the characteristics of businesses and the structural relationships between related businesses. For details, refer to paragraphs 2 to 10 of the Explanatory Notes.


A business is a TAU, comprising one or more legal entities, business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity that can report production/transactions and employment activities via a subset of data elements in respect of a homogeneous industry. An ABN unit in the ATOMP also meets the criteria required of a TAU and is therefore conceptually comparable.

Business Entity

A business entity refers to an entity registered on the ABR, and is equivalent to the term enterprise used in the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 legislation. For further information refer to the entry for Australian Business Number.

Business size

For the purposes of the ABSBR, Counts of Businesses suite of products, businesses are categorised as:

  • employing businesses, which are shown in three groups:
      • employment of 200 or more persons
      • employment of 20 to fewer than 200 persons
      • employment of fewer than 20 persons
  • non-employing businesses.

In the ATOMP, employing businesses are identified based on registration of a non-cancelled ITW role on the ABR, resulting in some employing businesses having zero employment.

The ABSBR is updated on an ongoing basis to take account of new businesses, businesses which have ceased employing, changes in employment levels, changes in industry and other general business changes. Businesses which have ceased employing are identified when the ATO cancels their ITW role.

In addition, employing businesses in the ATOMP that have not remitted Business Activity Statement (BAS) data for their ITW role for five consecutive quarters prior to the reference period are deemed to be long term non-remitters. These businesses are treated as non-employing businesses if they have at least one non-cancelled GSTP or ITIP tax role, otherwise these businesses are excluded.

Employing business

See the entry for Business size.

Enterprise (EN)

The EN is an institutional unit comprising a single legal entity or business entity, or a grouping of legal entities or business entities within an enterprise group (EG) classified to the same SISCA subsector. For further information, refer to paragraph 9 of the Explanatory Notes.

Enterprise group (EG)

This is a unit covering all the operations in Australia of one or more legal entities under common ownership and/or control. For further information, refer to paragraph 8 of the Explanatory Notes.

Classification by Industry

Businesses have been classified according to their description of activities. The industry is coded to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 1993 (ANZSIC) which is a classification system for grouping producing businesses (of both goods and services) in Australia and New Zealand into industries to permit comparability of data.

Industry class

Within ANZSIC, there is a structure comprising four levels ranging from industry division (broadest level) to the industry class (finest level). At the industry class level, the activities are narrowly defined and recognised by a four-digit code, e.g. Industry Class 2331 for Pulp, Paper and Paperboard Manufacturing.

Industry division

The main purpose of the industry division level is to provide a limited number of categories which give a broad overall picture of the economy. There are 17 divisions within ANZSIC each identified by an alphabetical letter, that is, 'A' for Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, 'B' for Mining, 'C' for Manufacturing, etc.

Industry group

This is the intermediate level within an industry division of ANZSIC and is recognised by a three-digit code, e.g. Industry Group 233 for Paper and Paper Product Manufacturing. It gives more detail than the industry subdivision and is created in a way that groups like industry classes together.

Industry subdivision

This is the broadest level category within an industry division of ANZSIC and is recognised by a two-digit code, e.g. Industry Subdivision 23 for Wood and Paper Product Manufacturing. Industry subdivisions are built up from industry groups which, in turn, are built up from industry classes.

Main business address

The main business address of a business relates to the physical address where the main business activity takes place. The individual addresses of businesses with multiple locations are not available.

Main State

For businesses in the ATOMP, Main State refers to the state or territory of the main business address. For businesses in the ABSMP, Main State refers to the state or territory with the highest employment.


Refers to those businesses which operate from locations in more than one state or territory.

Non-employing business

See the entry for Business size.


Refers to a business which operates from locations in only one state or territory.

Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA)

The SISCA is the central classification among ABS Standard Economic Sector Classifications. It is based on the System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93) institutional sector classification, and includes the following sectors: non-financial corporations, financial corporations, general government, households, non-profit institutions serving households, and rest of the world (which includes only non-resident units, these being excluded from all other sectors). For more information, users should refer to Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA) (cat. no. 1218.0).

Tax roles

Tax roles reflect the various tax obligations of businesses to the ATO, depending on the activities of the business. The current tax roles provided to the ABS by the ATO include:

  • DCIP - Deferred Company Instalments Payer
  • DGST - Deferred Goods and Services Tax
  • EGCS - Energy Grants Credit Scheme
  • FBTI - Fringe Benefits Tax Instalments
  • GSTP - Goods and Services Tax Payer
  • ITIP - Income Tax Instalment Payer
  • ITW - Income Tax Withholding
  • LCTP - Luxury Car Tax Payer
  • WETP - Wine Equalisation Tax Payer

Type of Legal Organisation (TOLO)

All legal entities on the ABSBR are classified according to their TOLO. Examples of types of legal entities recognised for statistical purposes are companies, partnerships, trusts, sole proprietorship, government departments and statutory authorities. TOLO indicates whether a business is part of the private or government sector and the type of ownership structure it has.

Type of Activity Unit (TAU)

The TAU, residing in the ABSMP, is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity within an enterprise group that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities when a minimum set of data items are available. For further information, refer to paragraph 10 of the Explanatory Notes.