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  • Glossary

    ABN Lookup

    ABN Lookup is the public view of the Australian Business Register (ABR). It provides access to publicly available information supplied by businesses when they register for an Australian business number (ABN).

    ABR Connect

    ABR Connect provides access to multiple government agency registers via a single business register, the ABR. It reduces the number of registers businesses need to access each time they update information.

    ABR Explorer

    An online reporting and analytical tool that makes using ABR data easy.

    ABR Identifier Search

    Allows eligible government agencies to perform ABN, Australian Company Number (ACN) and Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN) searches. It is accessed by a username and password and provides access to live core business information.

    advance pricing arrangement

    An arrangement between the ATO and large businesses on related-party international dealings. It provides for agreed pricing terms for a future period.

    Application programming interface (API)

    A set of routines, communication protocols and tools for building software applications.

    ATO app

    A digital application that allows taxpayers (individuals, small business owners, SMSFs and trustees) to conduct their tax and superannuation affairs from a mobile device. The ATO app can be downloaded onto a smart phone or tablet.

    ATO online services

    A range of tax and superannuation services available from our website, including lodging tax returns and activity statements and keeping track of super. Individuals, soles traders, businesses, tax agents, BAS agents and non-residents can register and log in at

    ATO Online Staff View

    Allows our staff to see the screen that an individual client is seeing when assisting them with ATO online services.

    audit yield

    The additional tax liabilities identified and collected through audit activities. It also includes interest and penalties.


    A single electronic identifier for businesses to access online government services with participating government agencies.

    black economy

    Economic activity not declared, which may be a result of attempts to avoid tax obligations. Also known as the 'cash economy' or 'non-observed economy'.

    Cash Flow Coaching Kit

    A practical resource that complements the knowledge and expertise of key tax professionals. It assists tax practitioners in helping their small business clients to better manage their cash flow.

    cloud-based software

    Software that is hosted on a remote server or 'cloud' (rather than the user's desktop). The data is processed remotely before being returned to the user.

    collectable debt

    Debt that is not subject to objection or appeal or to some form of insolvency administration.

    Commissioner’s remedial power

    The Commissioner of Taxation has limited powers to modify the operation of tax law in circumstances where entities will benefit, or at least be no worse off, as a result of the modification. The Commissioner's remedial power is a discretionary power.

    country-by-country reporting

    One of a range of international measures aimed at combating tax avoidance, through more comprehensive exchanges of information between agencies. Certain types of significant global entities are required to report on international related-party dealings, revenues, profits and taxes paid, by jurisdiction.

    digital service provider (DSP)

    Anyone who develops and delivers digital services to the community, including software developers, gateway providers, third-party providers, system implementers and clearing houses.

    Digital Transformation Agenda

    A key priority for the government, announced in 2015, with the aim of making it easier and more convenient for the public, including businesses, to interact with the government.

    Dispute Assist

    An ATO service designed to help unrepresented individuals and small businesses through the dispute process.


    A form of electronic billing. It enables exchange of the invoice document between a supplier and buyer in an integrated electronic format.

    event-based reporting

    From 1 July 2018, self-managed super funds (SMSFs) must report certain superannuation ‘events’ to the ATO. The events are reported using the transfer balance account report (TBAR).


    GovPass, under development in partnership with the Digital Transformation Agency, is a new way to manage identity digitally across government. GovPass will allow individuals to securely and easily identify themselves, connect with government digital services and authorise people to act on their behalf.


    Assistance we provide to taxpayers to help them understand their obligations and entitlements. It does not address a taxpayer's specific circumstances and is not binding on the Commissioner.

    high wealth individual

    An Australian resident who controls net assets of over $30 million.

    interpretative decisions

    A summary of a decision we have made on an interpretative matter, which gives an indication of how we might apply a provision of the law.

    large business

    A business with annual turnover of over $250 million.

    Member Account Attribute Service

    A service for super funds for reporting changes to a member's account attributes when they occur.

    Member Account Transaction Service

    A service for super funds for reporting member contributions or transactions more frequently and at a transactional level.


    The ATO's intranet site, which brings together a wide range of information, tools and systems for staff.


    A government system that provides secure access to a range of Australian Government services with one user name and password.


    A streamlined tax return designed specifically for people with straightforward tax affairs.

    net tax collections

    Total tax collections less refunds paid to taxpayers.

    nudge message

    A feature of instant messaging software used to get the attention of a user. Nudge messages are used in myTax to encourage the taxpayer to review certain items as they are preparing their return.

    Online services for agents

    A new ATO system under development, which will allow tax and BAS agents to access services that are currently provided by our portals. Online services for agents is being designed with tax and BAS agents.

    phoenix activity

    The systematic process of deliberately incorporating and liquidating operating companies with the intent of having the company avoid its obligations to its employees, to its suppliers, and to the tax system.


    An online system for taxpayers to access information and services.

    practitioner lodgment service (PLS)

    The new electronic channel that allows tax practitioners to lodge returns and other reports with the ATO. The PLS replaces the electronic lodgment service (ELS).


    Automatic population of labels in electronically prepared income tax returns. It includes information from government agencies, financial institutions and employers.

    private ruling

    A legally binding written expression of our opinion on the way in which a relevant provision applies, or would apply, to a particular taxpayer.

    privately owned and wealthy group

    We view privately owned and wealthy groups as:

    • companies and their associated subsidiaries (often referred to as economic groups) with an annual turnover greater than $2 million, that are not public groups or foreign owned
    • resident individuals who, together with their business associates, control net wealth over $5 million.

    Protective Security Policy Framework

    Outlines the Australian Government's requirements for the protection of its people, information and assets.

    public and multinational group

    Most of the largest organisations operating in Australia are publicly listed Australian or multinational groups.

    public ruling/determination

    The Commissioner's considered opinion on the way in which a relevant provision applies to taxpayers generally or a class of taxpayers. Any taxpayer covered by the ruling may rely on it and receive the associated protection.


    The Siebel Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application is used by the ATO as its core case management system.

    significant global entity

    An entity is a significant global entity for an income year if it is:

    • a global parent entity with annual global income of A$1 billion or more, or
    • a member of a consolidated group of entities where the global parent entity has an annual global income of A$1 billion or more.

    This includes:

    • Australian-headquartered entities (either with or without foreign operations), and
    • the Australian operations of foreign headquartered multinational entities.

    Small Business Superannuation Clearing House

    The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House is a free, optional service for employers with 19 or fewer employees, as well as those businesses with an annual aggregated turnover of less than $10 million.

    Small Business Newsroom

    An online tax and superannuation news service that combines email notifications to subscribers with a user-friendly website.

    small-to-medium enterprise

    A business with annual turnover between $2 million and $250 million.

    Standard Business Reporting (SBR)

    Enables businesses to prepare and provide reports to government directly from their business software.

    Standing Committee

    A committee that conducts inquiries on behalf of the Australian Government into any matter referred to it by either the House or a Minister, including any pre-legislation proposal, bill, motion, petition, vote or expenditure, other financial matter, report or document.

    super guarantee

    Super guarantee refers to the minimum level of superannuation contributions an employer must make for eligible employees.

    super guarantee charge statement

    An employer that does not make super guarantee contributions for an eligible employee within the required period must lodge a super guarantee charge statement with the ATO.


    SuperStream is a government reform to improve the efficiency of the superannuation system. Under SuperStream, all super transactions are electronic.

    tax assured

    An estimate of the proportion of tax reported that we are highly confident is correct.

    tax gap

    An estimate of the difference between the amounts the ATO collects and what we would have collected if every taxpayer was fully compliant within the law.

    Test Case Litigation Program

    Provides financial assistance to taxpayers who are litigating matters that will clarify the tax and superannuation laws we administer. By developing legal precedent, we seek to ensure we are providing the community with clear principles on how to apply the law.

    total revenue effects

    An estimate of the additional tax revenue resulting from our client engagement activities. It is a combination of audit yield and wider revenue effects.

    Towards 2024

    ‘Towards 2024’ reflects our ongoing commitment to transformation. Building on the gains of our reinvention program, the ATO corporate plan 2018–19 contains the next steps on the journey to achieving our 2024 aspirations. Our aim is to build trust and confidence in the tax and superannuation systems and to create a streamlined, integrated and data-driven future.


    Administered expenses incurred by the ATO, including superannuation guarantee, super co-contributions, and personal and business benefits and subsidies.

    wider revenue effects

    An estimate of the additional tax revenue arising from our broader suite of activities, which we can defensibly measure and that is not already captured by audit yield.


      Last modified: 26 Oct 2018QC 57192