Responding to the Survey of New Capital Expenditure

Frequently Asked Questions


The Survey of New Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) is conducted every quarter with businesses throughout Australia. Your participation in CAPEX is essential for calculating Australia’s major economic statistics including Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product. These statistics enable industry, business and government to make informed decisions.

Click the button below to complete the survey online.


About this survey

How to complete this survey


Information about the questions in this survey



Using CAPEX statistics


About this survey

What kinds of questions are asked in CAPEX?

This survey collects a range of information to produce important data about new and expected capital expenditure for vehicles, machinery, equipment, furniture, buildings and other structures.

Why has this business been included in CAPEX?

CAPEX is answered by a selected group of businesses that represent the wider Australian business community.

Businesses of a range of sizes and industries are included in CAPEX, as they are all affected differently by government policies. Large businesses, and those that are significant to industry or state or territory statistics, are generally selected every quarter. The process for selecting other businesses is through random selection, and if a business is selected, it represents a number of other businesses with similar characteristics.

We are a small business: should we be included in this survey?

The ABS considers the activities of small businesses to be as important as larger businesses. Therefore, small businesses cannot be excluded from participation in ABS surveys. Smaller businesses have varying capital expenditure types and levels and can be differently impacted by government policies and incentives. Answering the CAPEX questions helps enable government and others to best design policies that support the range of businesses across the states and territories of Australia.

In CAPEX, a select sample of small businesses represents a large number of other similar businesses. As such, these small businesses’ contribution to CAPEX statistics is essential.

How is the information from this survey used? Why is it important?

Your participation in this survey provides us with data that is essential for calculating Australia’s major economic statistics, including Australian National Accounts. These statistics are an important indicator of economic performance and changing patterns of activity and enable industry, business and government to make informed decisions which may affect your community or business.

Statistics from CAPEX are released on a quarterly basis and are published in Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure.

Do we have to answer the questions?

Yes. The questions included in this survey are being asked under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, which has provisions to make surveys compulsory. Under the Act, you are obliged to provide the information being requested. All the information you provide will remain strictly confidential.

How long will we need to participate in this survey?

The length of time that a business is selected in any particular survey will depend on factors such as the size of the business, the number of businesses with similar characteristics, and how significant the activities of the business are to the overall results.

Larger businesses have a high chance of selection in multiple ABS business surveys. Due to their significant contribution to the overall survey results, they will usually remain in a survey on an ongoing basis.

Smaller businesses have a lower chance of selection and will usually be included in CAPEX for three years at a time. However, there are exceptions to this rule and some small businesses may need to stay in longer than three years, particularly if the business has a significant impact on measurement of economic activity, for example, due to the type or location of the business.

Due to the large number of smaller businesses in Australia, they are generally not included in more than one survey at a time. However, there will always be some cases where inclusion in more than one survey cannot be avoided.

Where possible, we use data from existing administrative data sources to replace, or reduce direct data collection from smaller businesses.

Do we have to provide figures for this survey right now?

Yes. The industry, business and government users of CAPEX statistics need the most accurate and timely information possible so they can make well-informed decisions, which impact Australian businesses and communities. Please note that careful estimates are acceptable where actual data is not available.

How will the information we provide be kept safe, secure, and confidential?

We take the security of the information you provide to us very seriously. Your information remains strictly confidential to the ABS and is not shared with other agencies. We use the information you provide to calculate statistics, which are released in ways that do not allow for the identification of businesses or organisations.

All ABS employees have signed a legally enforceable Undertaking of Fidelity and Security in which they agree to keep any information, including personal information which they may deal with in the course of their work, private and confidential. This agreement applies to ABS employees for the rest of their lives, even if they leave the ABS. The penalty for breaching this is two years jail, a $21,600 fine, or both.

We comply with the Australian Privacy Principles. If you believe we have breached these principles, please see the information on how to lodge a complaint about privacy matters, contained within our privacy policy.

Will we be paid for our time?

No. There is no provision within the Census & Statistics Act 1905 to reimburse businesses for the cost of providing statistical information. In line with other national statistical organisations throughout the world, individuals, businesses and other organisations are asked to supply information for statistical purposes without compensation. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions.

Do we still need to complete the survey if the business was sold before the beginning of, or during the reference period?

In this case, please complete your survey form with comments indicating the sale of the entity and the date of the sale. This will help determine whether the business will be selected in the next survey reference period.

If the business operated by the selected entity (e.g. ABN) was sold during the reference period, then the survey should be completed using figures up to, and including, the day that the business was sold, as well as figures relating to any other new activity undertaken by the selected entity for the remainder of the financial year. Please also provide the name of the new business owners.

Do we still need to complete the survey if the business is still operating but didn't trade during the reference period?

In this case, you will still need to submit your survey with comments stating that your business/organisation did not trade this quarter. You do not need to include any figures or zero values.

Do we still need to complete the survey if the business has gone into liquidation or administration during the reference period?

In this case, please complete the survey using figures up to, and including, the day that the business was liquidated or went into administration. It is also important to report the date that this occurred.

If you are unable to access the accounts, then the liquidator or administrator should complete the survey. Where this is not possible, best available estimates of the data should be provided. It is acceptable to provide an estimate based on a percentage change from the previous year’s figures. Where estimates are not possible, please call us on 1800 806 256 (+61 2 6252 8809 overseas) and one of our team will be happy to assist you.

We have already completed CAPEX this quarter and have received a reminder letter. What should we do?

If you have received a reminder notice about completing CAPEX, it is likely that you have returned the survey at the same time as we issued your reminder notice. If you wish to confirm this, please call one of our team on 1800 806 256 (+61 2 6252 8809 overseas) and we will check the information against our records.

How to complete this survey

How do we answer CAPEX?

For this survey, you will have received a letter with a Form Access Code to access your survey form online. You can then set up, or log in to, your ABS Survey Account and add your Form Access Code to access the survey form.

Your account is a secure service that allows a survey to be accessed as many times as is needed before final submission. The same account can be used for other ABS surveys.

If you are unable to complete your survey online, please call us on 1800 806 256 (+61 2 6252 8809 overseas) and one of our team will mail you a paper form with a reply paid envelope.

We’re having trouble completing the survey online – where can we find help?

For more information on completing our surveys online, help is available on our Survey Account Help page. This page provides assistance with technical difficulties and includes frequently asked questions which assist in creating and using the ABS Survey Account.

If you are having trouble creating or accessing your account, completing the survey online, or have lost your Form Access Code, please call us on 1800 806 256 (+61 2 6252 8809 overseas) and one of our team will be happy to assist you.

If you would like more general information about participating in one of our surveys, please see our Survey Participant Information page.

Information about the questions in this survey

How accurate do the figures need to be?

We require information to be as accurate as possible. The information supplied by your business is used to produce estimates which represent businesses within the same industry operating in Australia. The more accurate the figures you supply, the more accurate the estimates will be.

Why can't we see the figures we provided last quarter in the current survey form?

Due to strict privacy policy guidelines protecting the information submitted by our data providers, we create new online survey forms every quarter that do not contain previously submitted data. We recommend printing a copy of your completed form prior to submission so that you have a copy for your records.

Why do we need to provide a reason for why figures this quarter differ by more than 10 percent from those reported last quarter?

As this survey measures the growth of Australian industries over time, understanding why businesses/organisations report profits or losses of more than 10 per cent each quarter is important.

The data we provided last quarter was an estimate and we now have more accurate figures available. What should we do?

If the estimate provided in the last quarter differs by more than 10 percent of the revised value, it is important that the figure provided is revised. To do this, please call us on 1800 806 256 (+61 2 6252 8809 overseas) and one of our team will be happy to assist you in revising your figures.

How should we report capital expenditure on vehicles, machinery, equipment and furniture assets which are brand new or imported?

Please report this information as detailed below:
  • For assets purchased, enter the full capitalised value. Do not deduct the value of disposals or trade-ins.
  • For assets under finance lease arrangements, report the full purchase value of the asset (i.e. the amount you would have to pay to purchase the asset outright rather than leasing it). Do not report progressive lease payments or residual payments.
  • Include imported assets, whether new or second-hand.
  • Exclude computer software.
  • Exclude second-hand assets, unless imported.

How should we report capital expenditure on new buildings and other structures?

Please report this information as detailed below:

  • Include progress payments made to contractors for capital work done by them.
  • Include construction of buildings not intended for sale prior to being occupied.
  • Include plant or equipment which forms an integral part of a structure, e.g. FPSO, LNG trains.
  • Exclude purchases of previously occupied buildings.
  • Exclude repairs and maintenance written off as current expenses.

This business operates all over Australia. What should we do if we are unable to split spend by state?

Where spend cannot be split by state, and exact data is unavailable, estimates for state breakdowns should be provided.

A dissection of spend by state is published in Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure and is used by various government bodies, including state Treasury departments, as a measure of state performance.

Using CAPEX statistics

How can this business use CAPEX statistics?

We provide statistics free of charge on our website. Statistics produced from CAPEX are published in Private New Capital Expenditure and Expected Expenditure and contribute to statistics in the Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product.

How can we provide feedback about our involvement in CAPEX?

If you have participated in this survey, or any of our other surveys, we want to hear about your experience. We value your feedback and will use it to improve how we work with our survey participants.

You can use our feedback form to provide us with feedback. For this survey, please select the option "Participation in an ABS Business Survey".

Who can we contact for more information?

For help, or more information about this survey, please call us on 1800 806 256 (+61 2 6252 8809 overseas) Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm AEST.

For help outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will call you back.