5673.0.55.003 - Wage and Salary Earner Statistics for Small Areas, Time Series, 2005-06 to 2010-11  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/12/2013   
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These estimates of Wages and salaries income released by the ABS are sourced from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). 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.

The ATO compiles a range of data from this collection for release on the ATO website. An extract of personal income tax is provided to the ABS on an annual basis under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ABS and the ATO.

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

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.


Personal income data for Wage and salary earners are produced at regional (small area) level to provide valuable information about regional economies and the income of individuals resident in regions. Moreover, annual regional level income data are not available from existing ABS censuses and surveys.

The scope of the personal income tax data includes individuals who submit an individual income tax return to the Australian Tax Office.
Data items for individuals include number of 'taxable' and 'non-taxable individuals', and 'taxable income'.

The main statistical releases from ATO personal income tax data are:

  1. Counts of taxable and non-taxable individuals, and amount of taxable income;
  2. 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);
  3. Number of Wage and salary earners, income earned and average Wage and salary income by various cross-classifications (age, sex, occupation and income range).

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 as per 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 (LGA); plus state/territory and Australia.

Occupation data for Wage and salary earners are presented using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), First Edition.


Individuals may lodge income tax returns in respect of each financial year (1 July to 30 June). Personal income tax data are provided to the ABS approximately 22 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 2010-11 year was extracted as at 31 October 2012 and initially provided to the ABS over July - August 2013.

Once received the ATO data is subject to conversion (by ABS) to different geographies, extra confidentialisation (where required) and analysis. Extensive data cubes are also created for an array of ASGS geographies over time. Generally the ABS publishes the final estimates, 4 to 5 months after receipt of the source data from the ATO.


Personal income tax data are 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 underestimates the number of income earners and the total income they earn.

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.


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.

Changes in the Occupation Classification from 2008-09 onwards

In 2009 the ATO moved from using the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) to the new Australian and New Zealand Standard of Occupations (ANZSCO), Version 1. This means that the ANZSCO occupation data presented in this issue - for 2009-10 and 2010-11 - are not comparable to occupation data featured in earlier issues.

Other ABS Data

Other ABS sources of income data include:
  • the Survey of Income and Housing; and
  • the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings.

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 six monthly 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 Average Wages and Salaries data - 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.


Taxable income 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:
  • National Regional Profile (contains Taxation Statistics, income estimates by source and Wage and salary earners statistics in html web pages, Excel spreadsheets and master csv files).
  • Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas (cat no: 6524.0.55.002) - contains a summary main features and Excel spreadsheets.
  • Wage and Salary Earner Statistics for Small Areas (5673.0.55.003) - contains a summary main features and Excel spreadsheets.