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The information for which these Explanatory Notes are provided is based on data available from the Australian Business Register (ABR) which has been developed as part of the introduction of The New Tax System (TNTS). The ABR provides counts of Australian Business Entities which have been issued with an Australian Business Number (ABN) as part of the registration process. These data are based on a snapshot of business entities with an active Australian Business Number (ABN) on the ABR as at 30 October 2000.
As part of TNTS businesses with an annual turnover of $50,000 ($100,00 for non-profit organisations) and above are required to register for an ABN. Businesses below this threshold may choose to register. The Registrar of the ABR (who is also the Commissioner of Taxation) administers the ABR.
A business entity receives one ABN regardless of the number of commercial activities it undertakes. However, if an enterprise is carried on by a number of different, but related entities, each entity may register in its own right. Therefore, some care is needed in interpreting the number and characteristics of ABN entities presented in this data.
Business counts previously issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) differ from the numbers presented by these tables for a number of reasons. An explanation for these differences is provided in the respective definitions of business units.
The total number of ABN registrations includes a wide range of entities including the number of employing and non-employing entities. Businesses are then classified according to whether or not they are actively registered for Good and Services Tax (GST) purposes. Entities do not have to register for GST to register for an ABN.
The ABN entity is the unit for the purposes of the accompanying tables. The total number of registered business entities which were active at 30 October 2000 was 3.2 million, with 2.7 million of these business entities also being registered for GST. Business entities that had a GST registration status of ‘active’ numbered 2.1 million. Most of the information in the accompanying tables is in reference to these 2.1 million business entities registered and active for GST.
The industry (ANZSIC) code has been assigned to ABN entities based on information provided at the time of registration or information already available in the ATO about the type of activity of an entity.
At the time of ABN registration, businesses identified whether they operated from more than one location and in which States they had locations. Business entity counts by State are based on entities which operate from locations in a single State. Counts of entities which operate from locations in more than one State (multi-State) are also provided. For employing multi-State entities, further information is presented on the State/Territory of main business location and the States/Territories of all locations.
Counts of business entities which operate from a single location, by postcode, are available on request. Data are also available for single State employing entities at a finer level of industry classification. The data would be presented such as to ensure no information is shown about an identifiable business entity. For details on availability of such data please contact the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
The business counts are a snapshot of active ABNs on the ABR at 30 October 2000. The ABN registration process commenced on 1 November 1999. Business entities are required to notify the ABR of changes to the information contained on their registration forms including when entities cease operating or commence operations. The statistics presented are those of businesses with active registrations on the ABR at 30 October 2000.
The population for the data is all business entities in Australia which registered with the ABR to obtain an ABN. The ABR was established under Section 24 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999. To be entitled to an ABN one of the following conditions had to be met:
The business unit about which information is published is business entities which have an ABN.
Classification by Industry
The industry classification being used is the 1993 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) (Cat. no. 1292.0). Each business entity is classified to a single industry based on either a description of activities which has been provided by businesses on registration forms, or from information on types of activities of businesses, held by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Completeness of the ABR data
Information for the registration process was supplied to the ABR by businesses either electronically through the Australian Government Business Entry Point or through the return of registration forms manually completed by registrants. Data from the registration forms has been scanned and loaded to the ABR. The data are presented on an 'as registered' basis. This means that limited editing of data occurred. Address details were corrected to ensure allocation of ABNs to States could be undertaken. This only occurred where enough information was provided in the address to derive the correct postcode or State.
Comparability of Australian Business Register (ABR) and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Business Counts
The unit being counted in the data supplied on the ABR is business entities which have registered for an ABN. The way in which 'businesses' can register for an ABN affects the numbers presented. Business counts previously issued by the ABS differ from the numbers supplied from the ABR for a number of reasons. An explanation for these differences lies in the respective definitions of a business.
For example, if a single entity is currently operating a cafe, a takeaway food delivery service and a news agency, from different premises, it will have one ABN that covers all of these activities. A similar business enterprise with a different legal structure, may have more than one ABN. An enterprise such as a professional practice may be conducted by several entities, including, a corporations law company responsible for the day-to-day business operations, a trust which owns the building and a trust which pays for all the business services provided to the corporations law company. Each entity within the structure is required to register individually for an ABN. A large diversified enterprise may have many ABNs some of which may be employing and others non-employing.
The ABS maintains a register of employing businesses containing information which is used to determine the population for many ABS economic surveys. The business unit about which information is collected and published by the ABS is the ‘management unit’. This is the highest level unit within a business which controls its productive activities and a set of management accounts are maintained. In most cases it coincides with the legal entity owning the business (i.e. company, partnership, trust, sole operator, etc.). However, in the case of large diversified businesses there are often a number of management units, each coinciding with a 'division' or 'line of business'. A division or line of business is recognised where separate and comprehensive accounts are compiled for it. The management unit structure for large complex enterprises will not necessarily coincide with the way in which an enterprise registers with the ABR for ABNs.
The scope of the ABS business register is based around the concept of employing businesses. Employing businesses have been defined, in the past, as those clients of the ATO with a current relationship as a Group Employer taxpayer.
The ABS register does not contain information relating to non-employers, except for Agriculture units. Therefore, counts of businesses previously produced by the ABS from its business register have in the main not contained numbers of non-employers.
The ABS has also produced counts of small businesses which are derived from the ABS Labour Force Survey estimates of own account workers (i.e. people working in their own business without employees). These data do not include:
The data presented in the tables have been confidentialised to ensure no individual business entity can be identified. A threshold is applied to the number of business entities contributing to each cell of data. Where the threshold is not met, the data are not published. Other cells of data in the table which may or may not have met the threshold are also suppressed to ensure the business entities cannot be identified from the totals.
ABR Data Available on Request
For entities which operate from a single location, the data presented are available by postcode. Data are also available for employing entities at a finer level of Industry classification. The data would be presented such as to ensure no information is shown about an identifiable business entity. A charge is made for providing this information.
If you require further information about the statistics in this report, please contact the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
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