6524.0.55.002 - Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, Time Series, 2003-04 to 2006-07  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/12/2009   
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1 This release contains estimates of the sources of personal income people received for each year from 2003-04 to 2006-07. Each of the tables provide a breakdown of total personal income by the following sources - Wage and salary, Own unincorporated business, Investment, Superannuation and annuity, and Other income (excluding Government pensions and allowances).

2 The ABS has previously released estimates for the years 2003-04 to 2005-06, however this issue includes data for those years on a new basis. Changes in this issue include: the definition of Wage and salary income, and counts of individuals. The ABS has obtained data for the years 2003-04 to 2005-06 on this new basis to provide a time series for the years 2003-04 to 2006-07. Users should exercise caution in comparing data in this release with data in previous issues. Refer to the Summary of Changes (Paragraphs 5 to 10) and Appendix for further information about changes to this series.

3 Data is presented at various levels of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), including Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) and Local Government Areas (LGAs), in each state and territory of Australia.

4 These data have been compiled from the Australian Taxation Office's (ATO) Individual Income Tax Return Database and are part of the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) program to increase the range of regional statistics available, particularly through the use of administrative information collected by other government agencies. The ABS wishes to acknowledge the ATO which provided data used in compiling the statistics presented in this publication.


5 Estimates of Personal Income for the years 1995-96 to 2000-01 have previously been released in Experimental Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, Taxation and Income Support Data, 1995-96 to 2000-01 (cat. no. 6524.0.55.001). These estimates included data on Government pensions and allowances from the then Australian Government Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS).

6 Further information regarding the estimates for 1995-96 to 2000-01 can be found in Information Paper: Experimental Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, Taxation and Income Support Data, 1995-96 to 2000-01 (cat. no. 6524.0).

7 Estimates of Personal Income for the years 2001-02 to 2005-06 have previously been released in Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, 2001-02 to 2005-06 (cat. no. 6524.0.55.002). These estimates excluded Government pensions and allowances in Other income and Total income, but included Attributed personal services income in Wages and salaries.

8 Changes in this current release, containing Estimates of Personal Income for the years 2003-04 to 2006-07, include income from Lump sums and Eligible termination payments in Wages and salaries, and counts of individuals for each source of income include individuals with positive or negative net income from that source.

9 The changes can be summarised as:

Release Reference periods Government pensions
and allowances
Wages and salaries
Number of individuals

6524.0 and 6524.0.55.001 1995-96 to 2000-01 Included Gross wage and salary income Individuals with positive net income
Allowances, commissions, tips etc.
6524.0.55.002 2001-02 to 2005-06 Excluded Gross wage and salary income Individuals with positive net income
Allowances, commissions, tips etc.
Attributed personal services income
6524.0.55.002 2003-04 to 2006-07 Excluded Gross wage and salary income Individuals with positive and negative net income
Allowances, commissions, tips etc.
Attributed personal services income
Lump sums
Eligible termination payments

10 These changes, and the impact on the estimates, are discussed in more detail in the Appendix.


11 All individual income tax statistics are provided to the ABS by the ATO in aggregated form only, at the SLA level. Information about individual taxpayers has not been released to the ABS.

12 Prior to being provided to the ABS, the statistics have also been subjected to a confidentiality process that randomly adjusts table cells with small values. This includes altering some small cells to zero. Caution should therefore be exercised in deducing that there are no people in an area with certain types of income and, in general, no reliance should be placed on table cells with small values. The confidentiality process prevents the risk of inadvertently releasing any information that may identify an individual while preserving the overall information value of the statistics.


13 The main functions and responsibilities of the Australian Taxation Office are to administer taxation legislation and to collect a wide variety of taxes. The ATO therefore collects data from its reporting population as part of its processes to calculate income tax liability for those persons who are required to lodge an income tax return.

14 The ATO database covers all individuals who submit an individual income tax return and includes persons with income from one or more of a range of sources such as wages and salaries, own business, superannuation and annuity, investments and government pensions, benefits or allowances. The scope of the ATO statistics presented in this release are data items relating to income standards the ABS uses for its income surveys. However the scope of the ATO statistics presented in this release exclude government pensions, benefits or allowances.

Wage and salary income

15 Wages and salaries are the main forms of payments made to employees for their work or services. Wage and salary income, as reported on the income tax return, includes:
  • Gross income, as shown on the 'PAYG payment summary - individual non-business',
  • Allowances, which may include car, travel or transport allowances, allowances for tools, clothing or laundry and dirt, risk, meal or entertainment allowances,
  • Commissions, bonuses, tips, gratuities, consultation fees, honoraria and other payments for services,
  • Attributed personal services income,
  • Eligible termination payments and
  • Lump sums.

Own unincorporated business income

16 Own unincorporated business income includes the following data items on the individual income tax return:
  • net income (or loss) from business,
  • distributions from partnerships and trusts for primary production activities,
  • distributions from partnerships for non-primary production activities and
  • net personal services income.

17 The data excludes distributions from trusts for non-primary production activities as this mainly includes income from a range of other activities (mainly investments). It also excludes the income of working directors/owners of incorporated businesses who are classified as employees and consequently their income is included under wage and salary income.

Investment income

18 Investment income includes:
  • interest from financial institutions,
  • net rent and dividends or distributions (including imputation credits) from an Australian company, corporate unit trust or public trading trust,
  • distributions from trusts - non-primary production which mainly includes income from investments with cash management trusts, property trusts, money market trusts, mortgage trusts and unit trusts.

Superannuation and annuity income

19 Superannuation and annuity income includes superannuation and similar pensions and annuities paid by an Australian superannuation fund, a retirement saving account provider, a registered organisation or life assurance company and pensions paid by a fund established for the benefit of Commonwealth, state or territory employees and their dependants. Also included in this category are bonuses from life insurance companies and friendly societies.

Other income (excluding Government pensions and allowances)

20 Other income (excluding Government pensions and allowances) is made up of selected sources of other income reported on the individual income tax return that were not allocated to one of the above categories. In the main these include attributed foreign income and all other income as reported in question 22 (supplementary section) of the 2006-07 income tax return.

21 Government pensions, benefits or allowances are excluded from the scope of this data release and are therefore not included in this source of income category. Estimates from the ABS Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) of the amount of income Australians received from Government pensions and allowances was $56.3 billion in 2003-04 and $62 billion in 2005-06. This accounted for 12.3% of the total income estimate in SIH in 2003-04 and 11.5% in 2005-06.

Counts of individuals

22 Individuals may have income from a number of sources. Net income from a specific source may be positive or negative. For example, an individual may have positive net income from Wages and salaries but negative net income from Investment. The number of individuals for each income source includes all persons with either positive or negative net income from that source.

23 The total number of persons is not presented in this series as individuals may have more than one source of income in a given financial year. Therefore, calculating the sum of the individuals in each income category will overstate the actual total number of persons. For example, an individual could derive income from Wages and salaries, Investment and Own unincorporated business and therefore contribute to the person count in each of these income sources.


24 There are several data considerations that users should be aware of when analysing the data. Overall, these are not viewed as being so severe that they would lead to the production of misleading information. Readers are cautioned to be aware of these considerations and take them into account when analysing the results.

25 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.

26 Generally, the ATO considers someone to be an Australian resident for tax purposes if they have either always lived in Australia or have come to Australia to live permanently, have been in Australia for more than half of the financial year (unless their usual home is overseas and they don't intend to live in Australia), have been in Australia continuously for six months or more and for most of that time have been in the one job and living in the same place, or are an overseas student enrolled in a course of study for more than six months duration.

Processing of tax returns

27 The data presented in this publication were compiled 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. Any returns lodged after this date are not included. Therefore, for 2006-07, returns processed after 31 October 2008 are not included. This also applies for each of the previous three years of data presented in this release, so for 2005-06 data for example, returns processed after 31 October 2007 are not included.

28 Annual revised data is published by the ATO in Taxation Statistics, Personal Tax, Table 7 for selected income items. Although this data is different to the data contained in this release, it can be used to give an indication of the likely change in the number of taxpayers and total income or loss over time as more tax returns are lodged. As an example, Table 1 below shows that for the 2003-04 income year, an additional 3.1% of taxpayers lodged their income tax returns in the twelve months after the initial processing cut off of 31 October 2005. By the 31 October 2008 cut off, 11.5 million tax returns had been processed for the 2003-04 financial year, an increase of 5.2% from the original 2003-04 data. An initial increase of around 3% in the next year was also observed for 2004-05 and 2005-06 data.

Table 1. Comparison of ATO original and revised data, Number of taxpayers

Income year
Returns lodged as at
% change from
31 October 2005
% change from
31 October 2006
% change from
31 October 2007

31 October 2005
31 October 2006
31 October 2007
31 October 2008

29 Table 2 shows an overall increase in total income as more tax returns are lodged after the initial cut off date. For 2003-04 data, an additional 3.1% of income was reported twelve months after the initial 16 month cut off of 31 October 2005. This increased to $433.4 billion by the 31 October 2008 cut off, a total increase of 4.6% since the original published income estimate.

Table 2. Comparison of ATO original and revised data, Total income or loss

Income year
Returns lodged as at
% change from
31 October 2005
% change from
31 October 2006
% change from
31 October 2007

31 October 2005
31 October 2006
31 October 2007
31 October 2008

30 Due to the later lodgement dates for a small portion of tax returns (as shown above) the data provided in this release slightly under-estimates the total taxable income for a given financial year.

Changes in taxation policy

31 The ATO provides information annually in Taxation Statistics on their website about changes that may affect taxation statistics. Changes relating to personal income tax are in each edition of Taxation Statistics.

32 For the income year 2006-07, the following changes were noted in Chapter 2 of Taxation Statistics:
  • personal income tax cuts
  • the increase in the low income tax offset from $235 in 2005-06 to $600 in 2006-07
  • the abolition of the part-year tax-free threshold for individuals who ceased full-time education for the first time
  • changes to the tax treatment of foreign income and some capital gains for temporary residents
  • an increase in the amount you can claim for contributions to registered political parties, independent candidates and members from $100 to $1,500, and
  • the entitlement to claim a tax offset if you have to pay the Medicare levy surcharge as a result of you or your spouse receiving a lump sum payment in arrears.

33 For the income year 2005-06, the following changes were noted in Chapter 2 of Taxation Statistics:
  • personal income tax cuts
  • the introduction of new measures such as the 30% child care tax rebate, the 25% entrepreneurs' tax offset, transitional incentives to contribute to superannuation, and
  • transition to retirement rules - people aged over 55 can now access superannuation benefits without having to retire or leave their job.

34 For the income year 2004-05, the following changes were noted in Chapter 2 of Taxation Statistics:
  • personal income tax cuts
  • introduction of the mature age worker tax offset - workers aged 55 years and over may be entitled to the offset, based on the amount of income they received from working.

35 For the income year 2003-04, the following change was noted in Chapter 3 of Taxation Statistics:
  • the Super Co-contribution, which replaced the superannuation tax offset for personal superannuation contributions.


36 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. The survey was conducted every year from 1994-95 to 1997-98, and then in 1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2002-03. From 2003-04, the survey is being conducted every two years. For further information about the concepts, definitions, methodology and estimation procedures used in the SIH, refer to Survey of Income and Housing, User Guide, 2005-06 (cat. no. 6553.0).

37 Data collected from SIH can be compared to ATO data published in this release for the years 2003-04 and 2005-06. Comparison of these two series 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.

38 SIH produces estimates of current income as well as estimates of annual income in respect to the previous financial year. Current income refers to income being received at the time the data were collected from respondents. The data used in the following comparison are based on current income estimates as these are thought to provide a better picture of income earners, are more up to date and are generally reported more accurately than previous financial year estimates.

39 Differences exist between the two years of SIH data which should be taken into consideration, most significantly that the 2005-06 SIH was run as a stand alone survey, whereas the 2003-04 SIH was integrated with the Household Expenditure Survey (HES). This may have had an impact on response.

40 Table 3 presents comparable income data items from ATO data contained in this release and SIH data for 2003-04 and 2005-06. SIH estimates for both Wage and salary and Own unincorporated business income were higher than ATO income data in both reference years. Conversely, Investment income from the ATO was significantly higher than SIH data in both reference years, while income from Superannuation and annuities were similar.

Table 3. Comparison of ATO(a) and SIH(b) income data


Wage and salary
Own unincorporated business
Superannuation and annuity

(a) ATO data includes data that could not be allocated to a state or territory
(b) SIH data is current estimates rather than previous financial year

41 The differences observed between the two sets of income data are likely to be as a result of different definitions, methodologies and reference periods. For example, the inclusion of imputation credits and distributions from trusts - non-primary production may contribute to the higher estimates observed in the ATO investment data.

42 Overall, these results suggest that the ATO income tax data contained in this release is generally consistent in magnitude with the estimates derived from the ABS Survey of Income and Housing.


43 The Australian Standard Geographic Classification (ASGC) is used by the ABS for the collection and dissemination of geographically classified statistics. It is an essential reference for understanding and interpreting the geographic context of statistics published, not only by the ABS but also by other organisations, and its use enables comparability across datasets.

44 ATO data based on postcodes has been converted to data for Local Government Areas (LGA) and Statistical Local Areas (SLA) as defined by the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). Boundaries of these regions can change over time and the ABS revises and releases the ASGC annually.

45 Data in this publication for all years are presented on boundaries in Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2008 (cat. no. 1216.0).

Geographic concordances

46 The ABS uses geographic concordances to enable the conversion of data from one type of geographic region to another. These geographic concordances are generally used to convert data for 'non-standard areas' to data for standard areas used by the ABS. Geographic concordances (or conversions) are expressed as conversion factors based on population.

47 The geographic identifier on the ATO database is the postcode of the individuals' current home address at the time of completing the tax return. Consequently, postcode to SLA conversion factors have been used by the ATO to concord aggregated postcode data to estimates for Statistical Local Areas. The concordances are based on the Estimated Resident Population. For further information see the detailed main structure of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2008 (cat. no. 1216.0).

48 The concordance process:
  • enables the data to be more easily compared with standard ABS output;
  • enables the data to be output for other standard ABS geographic areas such as Statistical Divisions (SD), Statistical Subdivisions (SSD) and Local Government Areas; and
  • provides flexibility so that data can be provided for the different regions of interest being studied by users of regional data (which are usually groupings of SLAs and/or LGAs).

49 When analysing concorded data the following limitations of this methodology need to be taken into account:
  • in applying the concordances it is assumed that the particular characteristics of any data item are uniformly distributed across a postcode area. Therefore, concorded data may not truly reflect the distribution of the characteristics of the population. In some cases, where the same postcode is split across two or more SLAs and there are no other contributing postcodes, distinct numerical estimates will be derived but rates or averages will be identical for each SLA (as these will be equivalent to the original rate or average of the contributing postcode);
  • the conversion factors are based on total population only but have been applied across all ATO data items, i.e. the number of wage and salary earners, wage and salary income, total income and sex, age and occupation groups;
  • some official postcodes (such as PO boxes, etc.) do not correspond to residential areas but may still have been reported under the current home address field on the income tax return. Data for these and other 'invalid' postcodes, such as those due to incorrect reporting or processing errors, have been included in an 'unknown' category for each state and territory and for Australia where the state or territory was not known; and
  • concorded figures have been rounded so discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

50 While care was taken in producing the concordances the ABS will not guarantee the accuracy of concorded data.

Geographic regions

51 The statistics in this electronic release and accompanying data cubes are presented according to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2008. Under this classification, statistical areas are defined as follows:
  • Local Government Areas (LGAs): These areas are the spatial units which represent the geographical areas of incorporated local government councils. The various types of LGAs are cities (C), NSW local government areas (A), boroughs (B), rural cities (RC), towns (T), shires (S), district councils (DC), municipalities (M), SA regional councils (RegC), Qld regional councils (R) and SA Aboriginal councils (AC).
  • Statistical Local Areas (SLAs): These geographical areas are in most cases identical with, or have been formed from a division of, whole LGAs. In other cases, they represent unincorporated areas. In aggregate, SLAs cover the whole of a state or territory without gaps or overlaps. In some cases legal LGAs overlap Statistical Subdivision boundaries and therefore comprise two or three SLAs.
  • Statistical Subdivisions (SSDs): These are of intermediate size, between SLAs and SDs. In aggregate, they cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. They are defined as socially and economically homogeneous regions characterised by identifiable links between the inhabitants. In the non-urban areas an SSD is characterised by identifiable links between the economic units within the region, under the unifying influence of one or more major towns or cities.
  • Statistical Divisions (SDs): These consist of one or more SSDs. The divisions are designed to be relatively homogeneous regions characterised by identifiable social and economic units within the region, under the unifying influence of one or more major towns or cities.

52 Further information concerning statistical areas, including information about recent changes to boundaries, is contained in Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2008 (cat. no. 1216.0). The ASGC also incudes a complete series of maps. SLA maps for all states and territories can be found in Chapter 16 of the publication, or can be accessed individually from the Downloads tab.


53 The average annual growth rate is calculated as a percentage using the formula below, where Y0 is the average income at the start of the period, Yn is the average income at the end of the period, and n is the length of the period (in years) between Y0 and Yn.
      [(Yn/Y0)1/n -1] x 100


54 For further information about these and other statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.