The data used to produce these counts are extracted from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABSBR). The ABSBR is populated using administrative data from Australian Business Number (ABN) registrations recorded in the Australian Business Register (ABR), and business data from the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Data on the structures of large and complex businesses are also collected by ABS.
A conceptual and practical basis of counts has been published to show how the counts published in Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (CABEE) are derived from total registered ABNs, and the counts published by the ABR.
The results in this publication are based, in part on ABR data supplied by the Registrar to the ABS under the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 and ATO data supplied to the ABS by the ATO under the Taxation Administration Act 1953. These require that such data is only used for the purpose of carrying out the functions of the ABS. In addition, no individual information collected under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 is provided back to the Registrar or ATO for administrative or regulatory purposes. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the data for statistical purposes and is not related to the ability of the data to support the ABR or ATO core operational requirements.
Legislative requirements to ensure privacy and secrecy of this data have been followed. Only people authorised under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 have been allowed to view data about any particular firm in conducting these analyses. Results have been confidentialised in accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, to ensure that they are not likely to enable identification of a particular person or organisation.
ABS statistics draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments, and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence and is subject to the requirements of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.
Annual data is compiled from an extract of source data taken in mid-May each year. This information is used to compile the financial year counts as of June 30 for the past five years.
Quarterly data is compiled from data extracts which align with the mid-point of each calendar quarter. That is, the June 2023 quarter represents the period between mid-February 2023 and mid-May 2023.
Counts of businesses in this release include only actively trading businesses in the Australian market sector. Actively trading businesses are:
- Type of Activity Unit (TAUs) from the profiled population
- ABNs from the non-profiled population that are actively remitting Goods and Services Tax (GST)
For the purposes of CABEE, a business is defined as a legal entity engaging in productive activity and/or other forms of economic activity in the market sector. Such entities accumulate assets on their own account and/or hold assets on behalf of others, and may incur liabilities.
The economic activities of individuals are excluded, with the exception of individuals who engage in productive activity, either as a sole trader or in a partnership or trust.
Businesses are defined to be engaging in productive activity where they have a Goods and Services Tax (GST) role and are actively remitting GST through Business Activity Statements (BAS).
The businesses on the ABSBR are separated using a two population model. The two populations are known as the profiled population and the non-profiled population. The main distinction between businesses in the two populations relates to the complexity of the business structure and the degree of intervention required to reflect the business structure for statistical purposes.
Most businesses included on the ABSBR are in the non-profiled population. Most of these businesses have simple structures that are suitable for ABS statistical purposes at the Australian Business Number (ABN) level. For the non-profiled population, one ABN equates to one business.
For a small number of businesses, the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS economic statistics purposes and the ABS maintains its own economic units structure through direct contact with businesses. These businesses constitute the profiled population and are represented by Type of Activity Units (TAUs). This population consists of large, complex and diverse groups of businesses.
A Type of Activity Unit (TAU) consists of one or more business entities, sub entities or branches of a business that can be grouped according to production activity, and can report a minimum set of data items. These TAUs are classified according to the industry of the main activity. The relationship between TAUs and their associated legal entities (ABNs) may be one-to-one, many-to-one, or one-to-many.
The statistical unit referred to as a 'business' consists of ABNs from the non-profiled population and TAUs from the profiled population.
Business activity statement (BAS)
Business Activity Statements (BAS) are reports that businesses lodge with the ATO on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. They include the amount the business earned, the amount of GST collected, the amount of GST credits on goods and services purchased, pay as you go (PAYG) tax instalments and other tax reporting obligations.
A business may still be counted as actively trading at the end of the financial year even if it has ceased operating, if the associated ABN has not been cancelled and, the business has remitted GST within the last five quarters (or three years for annual remitters).
Long term non-remitters (LTNRs)
Businesses that have not submitted a Business Activity Statement (BAS) and/or have reported zero dollar amounts over five consecutive quarters (or three consecutive years for annual remitters) are treated as 'long term non-remitters' (LTNRs). These businesses are not considered to be actively trading and are excluded from the counts as they are not remitting GST.
A business may be classified as a LTNR at the end of the reference period, and therefore be excluded from the count of actively trading businesses in CABEE, then resume remitting GST at a later date. Such a business may have been operating during the period it was classified as a LTNR, despite not remitting GST during this time. These businesses are counted as other exits in the reference period they become a LTNR, and again as other entries in the reference period they resume remitting GST.
Units on the ABSBR have been classified according to the Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA) 2015, Type of Legal Organisation (TOLO) and Australian and New Zealand Industry Classification (ANZSIC) 2006. These classifications are used to determine whether a business unit is in scope of CABEE, and to publish counts.
1. Annual Data
The SISCA, ANZSIC and TOLO classifications of a business in the final year of the publication are applied across all five years in the publication. This is known as a back-cast classification.
2. Quarterly Data
The SISCA, ANZSIC and TOLO classifications represent a business' classification at the time data was extracted for that quarter. This is known as a point-in-time classification.
For this reason, business counts for the classifications available in the quarterly data cube may not align with the annual CABEE timeseries.
Standard institutional sector classification of Australia (SISCA)
SISCA is based on the System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA08) institutional sector classification. Entities classified to the following categories of SISCA are excluded:
- 2110 Reserve Bank of Australia
- 3000 General Government
- 5000 Non-Profit Institutions Serving Households
- 6000 Rest of the World
The exclusion of the General Government institutional sector particularly impacts on counts for the Public Administration and Safety, Education and Training, and Health Care and Social Assistance ANZSIC divisions (O, P and Q respectively).
For more information, see Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA), 2008 (cat. no. 1218.0).
Type of legal organisation (TOLO)
TOLO indicates whether a business is part of the private or public sector, and the type of ownership structure it has. Entities classified to the following TOLO categories are excluded:
- 26 Other Unincorporated Entities
- 33 Foreign Government
In-scope TOLO classifications are grouped in the data published in CABEE based on the following concordance:
|TOLO grouping in CABEE data||TOLO classification|
|Total Companies||11 Proprietary Companies|
|12 Public Companies|
|13 Other Incorporated Entities|
|Sole Proprietors||21 Sole Proprietors|
|Total Partnerships||22 Family Partnership|
|23 Other Partnership|
|Trusts||24 Trusts Regarded as Corporations|
|25 Other Trusts|
|Public Companies||31 Government Companies|
|32 Other Government Entities|
For more information, see Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA), 2008 (cat. no. 1218.0).
Each business has been classified to a single ANZSIC 2006 industry class. The industry class allocated is the activity which provides the main source of industry value added (sales of goods and services, wages and salaries or number of employees as a proxy), which is generally based on a description provided by the business.
Entities classified to the following 4 digit ANZSIC classes are excluded:
- 6210 Central Banking
- 6330 Superannuation Funds
- 7711 Police Services
- 7713 Fire Protection and Other Emergency Services
- 9540 Religious Services
- 9551 Business and Professional Associations
- 9552 Labour Association Services
- 9559 Other Interest Group Services n.e.c.
- 9601 Private Households Employing Staff
- 9602 Undifferentiated Goods-Producing Activities of Private Households for Own Use
- 9603 Undifferentiated Service-Producing Activities of Private Households for Own Use
For more information, see Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).
There are actively trading businesses that have not registered for an ABN because they do not have any obligations under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) legislation. For example businesses that have turnover that is under the threshold for registration (currently $75,000) may choose not to apply for an ABN. These businesses have not been identified or quantified and are not included in the counts presented in this release.
The scope for business counts includes some businesses that are yet to be coded by the ATO to an industry, sector and/or geographical area. Analysis conducted on these businesses indicates that, despite not having a complete set of classificatory data, these businesses were actively trading and also met the other scoping criteria of the collection. These actively trading businesses have been grouped together into ‘Currently Unknown’ or ‘No Usual Address’ codes in the data cubes.
Counts for ‘Currently Unknown’ categories are included in the publication for completeness. However entry and exit rates and percentage change involving 'currently unknown' values are not published to ensure administrative changes are not misinterpreted.
Counts of businesses in CABEE are published at four geographical levels: Australia totals, Main State, Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) and Local Government Area (LGA). Main State is derived from business information on the ABSBR, while SA2 is part of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Edition 3.
The ASGS is a framework of all the regions which the ABS and other organisations use to collect, release, and analyse geographically classified statistics. The ASGS ensures that these statistics are comparable and geospatially integrated and provide you with a coherent set of standard regions to access, visualise, analyse and understand statistics.
This release of CABEE uses the most recent version of the ASGS classification, ASGS Edition 3, an update of ASGS 2016 (Edition 2). This update, which was released in 2021, redefines some SA2 and LGA boundaries used in previous publications.
For more information, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) (cat. no. 1270.0).
Businesses can operate in more than one geographical location and be represented by a single ABN/TAU. These are referred to as multi-location businesses. For the purposes of this release, multi-location businesses are attributed to one geographical classification to prevent double counting of businesses. While the individual locations of businesses with multiple sites are not available in CABEE, some locations data at the SA1 level are available via the ABS BLADE product.
The issues of geocoding multi location businesses are more pronounced in counts at smaller geographies, as multi-location businesses are only attributed to a single SA2/LGA. As such, it cannot be assumed that business counts at each geographical level reflect all business operations within that geography.
For businesses in the non-profiled population, main state is derived from the main business address. The main business address of a business relates to the physical address where the main business activity takes place. For businesses in the profiled population, main state is the state or territory with the highest employment. Therefore, for some businesses in the profiled population, main state is not necessarily the state or territory of the main business address.
Statistical area level 2 (SA2)
Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2) are medium-sized general purpose areas which represent a community that interacts together socially and economically. The SA2 is the smallest area for the release of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) business counts statistics.
There are 2,473 SA2s covering the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. This includes 19 non-spatial special purpose code. These non-spatial SA2s represent populations that are difficult to define geographically such as people who are in transit or have no fixed address. These are represented by Migratory – Offshore – Shipping and No Usual Address SA2s.
The 9 Migratory Offshore Shipping and the Outside Australia SA2s are not published in CABEE, as businesses are not classified to these codes. This leaves a total of 2,463 SA2 regions published in CABEE, including No Usual Address for each State and Territory. SA2 data can be aggregated to larger geographical areas in the ASGS framework.
SA2 data is only coded for businesses in the non-profiled population. Units in the profiled population (TAUs) are included in “Currently Unknown” SA2 categories.
Local government area (LGA)
LGAs are special purpose areas which do not align directly with the ASGS. Their purpose is to represent a community that is administered by one local government council. LGAs are geocoded using the Geocoded National Address File (GNAF). LGA data is only coded for businesses in the non-profiled population.
Units in the profiled population (TAU’s) are included in “No Usual Address” LGA categories.