3418.0 - Personal Income of Migrants, Australia, Experimental, 2009-10 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/09/2015   
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1 These estimates of the personal income of permanent migrants published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) are sourced from the Department of Social Services (DSS) Settlement Database (SDB) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Personal Income Tax (PIT) data. These two datasets were linked to create the Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset (PITMID).

2 The Settlement Database (SDB) has been developed to provide statistical data for government and community agencies involved in the planning and provision of settlement services. It brings together data from various Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) systems and a number of other sources including Medicare Australia. The SDB is a repository of information on permanent, and some temporary, settlers who have arrived in Australia since 1 January 1991. The DSS is the custodian of the database. An extract of the Settlement database is provided to the ABS for the purposes of linking as agreed under the terms of the project. For more information see the project entry on the National Statistical Services (NSS) website.

3 The ATO collects personal income tax information from the lodgement of personal income tax returns as part of their role to manage and shape tax, excise and superannuation systems that fund services for Australians [See: http://www.ato.gov.au 'About Us']. The ATO compiles a range of data from this collection for release on the ATO website. An extract of personal income tax data is provided to the ABS on an annual basis under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ABS and the ATO.

4 All individual migrant records and income tax statistics are provided to the ABS by the DSS and ATO in unit record form.

5 For information on the institutional environment of the ABS, including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


6 Personal income data are produced for permanent migrants to provide valuable information about the economic circumstances of permanent migrants with various lengths of residency since 1 January 2000. This level of detail on income data for migrants is not available from any other existing ABS censuses and surveys. The ATO PIT data alone does not allow for the identification of permanent migrants, while the SDB does not contain any information on income.

7 The scope of the linked migrant personal income tax data includes permanent migrants who submitted an individual income tax return to the Australian Tax Office in the 2009-10 financial year.

8 The main statistical releases from DSS Settlement Data are:
1. Settlement Reports detailing data such as counts of individuals by State of residence, Country of birth, Language, Gender, Ethnicity and Religion.
2. Settlement Reporting Facility, allowing users to customise data requests for counts of individuals.

9 The main statistical releases from ATO PIT data are:
3. Counts of taxable and non-taxable individuals, and amount of taxable income;
4. Number of persons and amount of income from Wages and salaries, Own unincorporated business, Investment, Superannuation and annuities, Other income (excluding Government pensions and allowances), Total income (excluding Government pensions and allowances);
5. Number of Wages and salary earners by various cross-classifications (age, sex, occupation and income range).

10 Data for income categories in 4 and 5 above are aggregated from items in the individual income tax return and are selected to conform as closely as possible to ABS Income Standards. For more information on the data items included in each category, refer to the Explanatory Notes.

11 Due to the tax exempt status of many Government pensions and allowances, information on these types of income sources are under-reported on the PIT dataset. For this reason, Government pensions and allowances are not included in the calculation of Total income in this publication. Methods for including more complete Government pensions and allowances information sourced from different DSS datasets are being considered for future iterations of this project.

12 These statistical releases are presented at the national level. Further information at other levels of geography, based on the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), are available on request as a consultancy by contacting the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

13 Occupation data are presented using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). Industry data are presented using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). Country of birth and Citizenship data are presented using the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC).


14 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 to 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 were provided to the ABS in July 2012.


15 Migrant data is derived from information contained in visa applications lodged with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Information is generally filled in by the migrant or a migration agent and may be subject to non-sampling error, such as mistakes made when filling out the application. Some available data items have a high non-response rate as not all questions are required for all applications. Some information on the SDB, such as name and address information, is updated regularly from Medicare. However, some information such as marital status and proficiency in English is collected at the time of the visa application and is not updated unless another application is lodged.

16 Personal income tax data is derived from information contained in personal income tax returns lodged with the ATO. 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. This leads to a slight over-estimation of the median income received by taxpayers as those with income below the tax free threshold are not included.

17 Personal income 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. Despite this, the quality of the data published is considered to be very high.


18 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.

19 Data for income categories described above (see Relevance) are aggregated from items in the individual income tax return. There have been several changes in the past few years. For more information on specific changes in previous years, refer to the Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas (cat. no. 6524.0.55.002) Quality Declaration.

20 One change to the calculation of "Other income" was made from 2009-10 to 2010-11. This change will impact the next iteration of the PITMID statistical publication.

Reference periods
Changes to Other income
  • 19C Foreign investment fund and/or foreign life assurance policy income

  • 21 Other ABS sources of income data include:

    22 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. Country of birth and year of arrival are available from the SIH but permanent migrants cannot be identified. Given that the SIH outputs information for households and it is not possible to identify households on the PITMID, it is difficult to compare the recorded values in the PITMID with those estimated in the SIH.

    23 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. Personal information on employees such as country of birth and year of arrival are not available on the AWE. The average weekly employee income for migrants presented in the PITMID can be compared at the Australia level with 'average weekly total earnings for all employees jobs' for May 2010 from the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings. These two series items are generally consistent in magnitude at the Australia level (see the table below)

    Personal Income Tax and Migrant Integrated Dataset, 2009-10
    Survey of Average Weekly Earnings (May 2010)
    $1 065.19
    $1 183.40

    Income data is also available every five years from the Australian Census of Population and Housing which provides total income for households and individuals. While the Census provides information on country of birth, year of arrival and ancestry, data to enable the identification of permanent migrants is not included. However, the Australian Census and Migrants Integrated Dataset (ACMID) does include permanent visa subclasses and this data can be compared to the PITMID data. The two series are generally consistent in magnitude at the Australia level.

    25 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 updated iteratively whereas the PITMID data are from a fixed 'point in time'. The ASNA mainly sources data from businesses and the government sector while the PITMID data are primarily sourced from individuals. This methodological difference contributes to some variation in estimates across these collections.


    26 Counts of individuals in this release are linked migrants aged 15 years and over who submitted a tax return to the ATO for the 2009-10 financial year. It is not an count of all migrants in Australia.

    27 The following records were excluded from the linkage process:
    • Persons recorded on the SDB as being deceased;
    • Non-visa holders, such as New Zealand citizens
    • Temporary visa holders, such a Students and Temporary work (Skilled) visas.

    28 Estimates of personal income in this release are gross income before deductions, and before tax and application of the Medicare levy.

    29 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.

    30 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.


    31 Personal income tax data provided to the ABS from ATO, is also released to the ABS website in:

    32 Further ABS publications including migrant data utilising the DSS Settlement Database include: