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Data for income categories in 2. and 3. above are aggregated from items in the individual income tax return, and are selected to conform as closely as possible to ABS Income Standards.
These statistical releases are presented at the following levels of geography of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2); Statistical Area Level 3 (SA3); Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4); Greater Capital City Statistical Area (GCCSA); Local Government Area; and state/territory, Australia.
Individuals may lodge income tax returns in respect of each financial year (1 July to 30 June). Personal income tax data is provided to the ABS around 22 - 25 months after the income year. Data are taken from an annual extraction from the ATO database as at 31 October each year (16 months after the income year). For example, data for the 2009-10 financial year was extracted as at 31 October 2011 and provided to the ABS in July 2012. Data are released annually by the ABS.
Personal income tax data is derived from information contained in personal income tax returns lodged with the Australian Taxation Office. For the purposes of providing statistical measures for the entire population, the ATO database has some limitations in its coverage. Persons who receive less than the taxable income threshold are not necessarily required to lodge a tax return. This can include persons who derive their income from government pensions and allowances. Consequently, the coverage of low income earners, including people receiving government pensions and allowances is not complete in ATO records. In addition, a number of Commonwealth of Australia government pension, benefit and allowance payments are exempt from income tax and are therefore not required to be included in tax returns.
Data are provided by the ATO before the processing of all income tax returns for any given year may have been completed. Data provided to the ABS by the ATO are from returns processed up to 31 October, 16 months after the end of the financial year. It is estimated that approximately an additional 3% of taxpayers lodge their income tax returns in the twelve months after the initial processing cut off each year and approximately 5% of taxpayers lodge their income tax returns in the three years following the processing cut off. This means that data provided to the ABS slightly under-estimates the number of income earners and the total income earned.
In 2012, the ATO has provided ABS with aggregate data at postcode level for 2009-10, plus back data for 2005-06 to 2008-09. The data have been confidentialised by randomly adjusting table cells with small values. Caution should be exercised by users when deducing that there are nil people in an area with certain types of income. In general, no reliance should be placed on table cells with small values. The source data have been subject to several steps to transform it from postcode to required geographies, and in some cases, confidentialisation has been re-applied at each step to provide additional protection.
Personal income tax statistics can be impacted by changes to Tax legislation. The ATO outlines any such changes in their annual release of 'Taxation Statistics' on the ATO website.
Data for income categories described above (see Relevance) are aggregated from items in the individual income tax return, and are selected to conform as closely as possible to ABS Income Standards. There have been several changes, reflected in the data released for 2001-02 to 2005-06, and for 2003-04 to 2006-07, 2003-04 to 2007-08, 2003-04 to 2008-09, and 2009-10.
Other ABS sources of income data are:
The ABS Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) collects information on sources of income, amounts received and the characteristics of persons aged 15 years and over resident in private dwellings throughout Australia. Data collected from SIH can be compared to ATO personal income tax data published in Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas (cat no. 6524.0.55.002) and Wage and Salary Earner Statistics for Small Areas (cat no. 5673.0.55.003) at the Australia level. Small area estimates are not released from the SIH. Comparison of these series for Australia can provide a means of assessing trends, establishing whether counts are of an expected magnitude and whether the distribution of income across the various sources is similar. The ATO personal income tax data contained in this release is generally consistent in magnitude with the estimates derived from the ABS Survey of Income and Housing at the Australia level.
The Survey of Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) is a quarterly sample survey of employing businesses. It collects data on average weekly earnings for full-time adult employee jobs, average weekly total earnings for all employee jobs, and average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time adult employee jobs. Small area estimates are not released from AWE. The ATO Average Wage and Salary income as presented in Wage and Salary Earner Statistics for Small Areas (cat no. 5673.0.55.003) can be compared at the Australia level with the 'average weekly total earnings for all employees jobs' from the survey of Average Weekly Earnings. These two series items are generally consistent in magnitude at the Australia level.
Income data is also available every five years in the Census of population and housing. The Census provides total income for households and individuals. Data are available for a range of small areas.
The Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA) brings together wage and salary estimates from multiple sources, including a range of quarterly and annual business surveys. The data are also updated iteratively whereas the SIH and ATO data are more 'point in time' snapshots. Whereas the ASNA mainly sources data from businesses and the government sector, the ATO and SIH data are primarily sourced from individuals; this methodological difference contributes to some variation in estimates across these collections.
Estimates of personal income in this release are gross income before deductions, and before tax and application of the Medicare levy.
Taxable income (contained in the ATO 'Taxation Statistics', and released in the National Regional Profile) is calculated on the personal income tax as total income or loss minus total deductions.
Personal income tax data releases all contain detailed Explanatory Notes that provide information on scope and coverage, confidentiality, changes to the data over time, geographical presentation of the data, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.
All personal income tax data provided to the ABS from ATO, is released to the ABS website in:
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