Show download pdf controls
  • Program 1.3 Australian Business Register

    The Commissioner of Taxation is also the Registrar of the Australian Business Register (ABR). The Registrar has separate and distinct responsibilities as outlined in section 28 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999.

    The ABR program encompasses:

    • the Australian Business Register which is a comprehensive national business dataset
    • Standard Business Reporting (SBR) which defines a common language for business information and standards for electronic information sharing – it is used in business record-keeping software to support running the business and reduce the burden of reporting to government
    • a secure authentication option giving business easy-to-use access to online services.

    Purpose

    The ABR program contributes to improving the wellbeing of the Australian people through enhanced business productivity:

    • reducing the administrative cost to businesses in their dealings with other businesses and in complying with government regulation
    • influencing government policy development and implementation, through advocating the use of whole-of-government services, technologies and processes to minimise the administrative impact on business
    • encouraging the broader use of the national business register information, and the ABN as the key identifier for business.

    The performance criteria for the ABR program are set out in pages 173–174 of the Australian Taxation Office Budget Statements (PDF, 2.08MB)This link will download a file (in the PBS) and page 21 of the ATO corporate plan 2016–17.

    Performance overview

    The Australian Business Register (ABR) program governance framework, is overseen by the ABR Board. The Board also oversees the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) program, including SBR Evolution. To ensure ABR stays relevant to whole-of-government requirements, we work closely with the Digital Transformation Agency. Finally, the ATO supports the Digital Business Council which was established in 2015 to help support and facilitate the open exchange of digital transactions in Australia.

    The government’s investment in the ABR program is yielding significant savings for businesses. We achieved a reduction of $1.39 billion in administrative costs to business in complying with government regulations, a 16% increase in savings over 2015–16.

    We received 2.8 million lodgments of single or multiple major forms through the use of SBR-enabled services, including an increase in:

    • the number of income tax returns lodged to 1.3 million, from approximately 110,000 in 2015–16
    • the number of business activity statements to over 610,000, which was approximately 360,000 in 2015–16
    • the number of self-managed super fund (SMSF) annual returns lodged to 47,800, from 10,700 in 2015–16.

    In addition, the use of ABR services by government agencies is continuing to increase. Our ABR Connect service provides government agencies with live access to the Australian Business Register. This enables agencies to link directly from their systems to the records held for each Australian business number (ABN), reducing the need to for agencies to separately collect core business information from businesses. In turn, this reduces the burden on business in terms of time, cost and reporting to government. As of 2016–17, a total of six government agencies have integrated access to ABR Connect in their systems. Government agencies are also able to query ABN information through our ABR Explorer tool. This free, online, analytical and reporting tool supports agencies in their service delivery and policy decisions and is currently accessed by over 230 agencies.

    The trust in the integrity of the information available on the register is core to the services we provide. In 2016–17, we continued to improve the accuracy and completeness of the register with 810,000 ABNs being cancelled by the Registrar. This is an increase of 15% compared to 2015–16. In addition, through contact with over 300 large businesses, the number of branch locations available increased by 24,000 and 125,000 invalid ANZSIC codes were corrected.

    We also increased our review activities of employers and businesses, from within identified industry types, where we suspect that workers are being incorrectly employed as contractors and required to have an ABN. Where these employers are incorrectly classifying their workers as contractors, we work with them to transition their workforce to the correct employment method.

    The importance and quality of the ABR is also being recognised overseas, with the Australian and New Zealand governments presently negotiating to mutually recognise the business numbers of each country.

    Results snapshot

    The following symbols are used in the results shown below.

    Achieved

    Achieved

     Substantially achieved

    Substantially achieved

     Not achieved

    Not achieved

     Result not available

    Result not available

     

    TABLE 2.18 Overview of performance results – Program 1.3

    Measure

    Result

    Increased use of the ABR as the national business dataset by government agencies and the community

    Achieved

    Increase in the number of government agencies using the ABR database as their own

    Achieved

    Increase in the number of government agencies implementing and using SBR

    Substantially achieved

    Australian residents’ ABR registrations finalised in 20 business days

    Achieved

    Reduction in the unintended administrative costs to business of complying with government regulation

    Achieved

    Performance results

    TABLE 2.19 Program 1.3 Australian Business Register, 2015–16 to 2016–17

    Performance criterion

    Criterion source (page)

    Result

    Target

    PBS

    Corp plan

    2015–16

    2016–17

    2016–17

    Increased use of the ABR as the national business dataset by government agencies and the community

    173

    21

    140 government agencies using ABR Explorer

    14% increase in ABN Lookup searches

    Achieved

    232 government agencies using ABR Explorer (66% increase)

    32.5% increase in ABN Lookup searches

    50% increase

    (in the number of agencies accessing and using ABN data through the ABR Explorer tool)

    Analysis

    A 66% increase in ABR use by government agencies (exceeding the performance target) and a 32.5% increase in ABN Lookup searches each demonstrate the increased use of the national business register information (the ABR) by government agencies and the community.

    This outcome is largely due to increased marketing and engagement activities, such as newsletters, attending conferences and referrals from current users. With further targeted activities planned for the coming year, we expect the uptake in use of ABR Explorer and ABN Lookup to continue.

    This result indicates that there is a continued growth in the number of agencies accessing ABR data via ABR Explorer. Agencies have indicated they use this data to identify new business in their local government area, broader use for disaster recovery, planning and economic development and compliance analysis. There is a flow-on effect for businesses, as they can update their details in the ABR and effectively update their records for a range of government agencies, which reduces their administrative costs.

    TABLE 2.19 Program 1.3 Australian Business Register, 2015–16 to 2016–17

    Performance criterion

    Criterion source (page)

    Result

    Target

    PBS

    Corp plan

    2015–16

    2016–17

    2016–17

    Reduction in the unintended administrative costs to business of complying with government regulation

    173

    21

    $1.2 billion

    Achieved

    $1.39 billion

    $1.39 billion estimated annual savings to business

    Analysis

    In 2016–17, an additional $0.19 billion of reduction in administrative costs was obtained, bringing the total annual reduction, relative to 2011–12, to $1.39 billion. This meets the performance target and demonstrates the reduction in the administrative costs to both business and government gained through implementation, improvement and use of ABR and SBR.

    As in previous years, this year’s outcome is largely due to SBR initiatives and improvements made within SuperStream leading to additional benefits in reporting to government.

    This result indicates that savings to business and government from the initiatives of the Australian Business Register program continues to deliver in reducing the reporting burden, minimising cost to business and enhance business interactions through natural-based systems for the business community.

    TABLE 2.19 Program 1.3 Australian Business Register, 2015–16 to 2016–17

    Performance criterion

    Criterion source (page)

    Result

    Target

    PBS

    Corp plan

    2015–16

    2016–17

    2016–17

    Increase in the number of government agencies using the ABR database as their own

    173

    21

    3

    Achieved

    3

    Three additional government agencies

    Analysis

    Three additional agencies connecting to the ABR in 2016–17 meets the performance target and demonstrates the increased use of the national business register (the ABR) by government agencies.

    This outcome is largely due to targeted promotional and marketing activity. We expect an increase in new agencies connecting to the ABR over the coming years.

    Agencies that have connected to the ABR are using the business information contained on the ABR to tailor interactions with their clients, to support pre-population and to facilitate easier and more timely interactions with these agencies. Using the register as their own has provided cost savings and efficiency gains for both government and the community.

    TABLE 2.19 Program 1.3 Australian Business Register, 2015–16 to 2016–17

    Performance criterion

    Criterion source (page)

    Result

    Target

    PBS

    Corp plan

    2015–16

    2016–17

    2016–17

    Increase in the number of government agencies implementing and using SBR

    173

    21

    3(9)

    Substantially achieved

    2

    Three additional government agencies

    Analysis

    Two additional agencies implementing and using SBR partially achieves the performance target and demonstrates the progress in increasing the number of government agencies implementing and using SBR message exchange framework for digital services. This represents an increase in the use of whole-of-government services, technologies and processes to minimise the administrative impact on business.

    In addition, there has been extensive engagement and progress in working towards implementing and using SBR with Shared Services South Australia and the Federal Department of Finance implementing an e-invoicing proof of concept.

    In the evolving digital world SBR has had to be responsive to how technology ‘projects’ are now evolving in an agile way. The SBR framework and method is supporting agencies to develop services based on application program interfaces (APIs). As demonstrated through Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and Service NSW work, having APIs developed in line with SBR makes them more easily consumable by agencies.

    Moving forward, the ATO will formulate a strategy and blueprint that sets out how SBR digital standards will shape and influence the future direction of information exchange between businesses and government.

    (9) Reported in Appendix 13 of the Commissioner of Taxation annual report 2015–16.
    TABLE 2.19 Program 1.3 Australian Business Register, 2015–16 to 2016–17

    Performance criterion

    Criterion source (page)

    Result

    Target

    PBS

    Corp plan

    2015–16

    2016–17

    2016–17

    Australian residents’ ABR registrations finalised in 20 business days

    21

    98%

    Achieved

    99%

    93%

    Analysis

    This result reflects our recognition that obtaining an ABN is an important step in commencing a new business. Ensuring that registration details are finalised quickly allows business owners to focus on getting their operation up and running and earning an income. This in turn contributes to economic activity more generally across the economy.

      Last modified: 30 Oct 2017QC 53768