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  • Individuals not in business income tax gap

    The individuals not in business income tax gap is an estimate of the difference between the total amount of tax we collect from individual taxpayers (excluding people who are running a business), and the amount we estimate we would collect if every one of these taxpayers was fully compliant with the law.

    Individuals who are not in business are salary and wage earners and investors. Individuals in business and high wealth individuals will be covered in future tax gap releases.

    For the purposes of this estimate, there are currently around 10.7 million individuals registered with a tax file number (TFN) who are not in business. Of these taxpayers, those that do lodge returns predominantly use an intermediary to prepare their tax, with around 68% lodging tax returns through a tax agent in 2014–15.

    Our estimate for this gap covers a two-year period, from 2013–14 to 2014–15. We estimated the gap from the results of random enquiry programs relating to tax returns lodged by individuals who are not in business. We reviewed the tax returns of a random sample of taxpayers for the respective years, and then applied the results to the broader population. This approach is considered best practice for a group this size.

    For 2014–15 we estimate a net tax gap of 6.4% or $8.76 billion. In other words, we estimate that individuals not in business paid over 93% of the total theoretical tax payable in 2014–15.

    Two of the main components driving the gap include incorrect claims for:

    • deductions for work-related expenses
    • omitted income, particularly in relation to undeclared cash wages (an element of the black economy).

    Another contributor is deductions for rental property expenses.

    At this stage, with only two years of sample results, we are unable to draw definitive conclusions around long-term trends of the net gap. We will provide trends in later years as we continue our work on estimating and reducing the gap.

    The Tax and individuals not in business document explains the issues and behaviours we see that contribute to these areas of concern and the strategies we have in place to manage them.

    Refer also to our media release on the individuals not in business income tax gap.

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    See also:

    Individuals pay as you go system

    Individuals who are not in business are the largest community segment interacting with the tax system. We talk about their contribution and the key features of these people in Tax and individuals not in business. In this document, we discuss the challenges we face, and how we are improving the system for people who want to do the right thing, while taking firm action with those who don't.

    Around 9.6 million individuals who are not in business lodge tax returns. Across this large population, even small amounts of non-compliance at an individual level have a significant impact on the revenue we collect.

    While the vast majority of tax collected is paid voluntarily through the pay as you go (PAYG) withholding system, we are concerned with the prevalence of taxpayers over-claiming deductions. Most commonly, we see errors relating to work-related expenses, rental properties and omission of income, particularly where wages are paid in cash. There are a range of factors contributing to why some people misreport this information.

    We work with our stakeholders in government and more broadly (such as data providers and software developers) to increase our data sources, harness advancements in technology, improve lodgment systems, and alert taxpayers and their agents to the risks we see. Our communication program is an important approach we use to raise awareness of common mistakes and provide information about how to avoid them. Collectively, our strategies aim to maintain the good health of the tax system, build trust and confidence in our administration, and reduce the tax gap.

    Measuring the gap

    We use a bottom-up approach to measure the individuals not in business tax gap drawing on results of our random enquiry program, in addition to operational data. Random enquiry programs review the whole return (all items) and are considered best practice when producing estimates for large populations. Our operational data includes results from our compliance activities on risk areas such as failure by employers to withhold tax, non-lodgment of tax returns and non-payment of debts.

    We engage an independent expert panel to provide advice on the suitability of our gap estimates and methodologies. Members include:

    • Neil Warren – Professor of Taxation, School of Taxation and Business Law, University of New South Wales
    • Richard Highfield – a highly experienced tax professional having worked within the fiscal areas of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
    • Saul Eslake – an independent economist, and vice-chancellor’s fellow at the University of Tasmania.

    To provide further assurance, we also engage Stephen Frost, former Deputy President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal who has confirmed the accuracy and quality of a sample of the audit results that underpin our gap estimate.

    Random enquiry program

    To undertake our random enquiry program, we randomly select a sample of individuals who are not in business taxpayers for profiling. People in this sample who are identified as low risk are not investigated further. The remainder of the sample progress to an audit (the random enquiry program).

    Once we have gathered information from the random enquiry program, we estimate the gap by using the incidence rate of adjustments and mean value of amendments resulting from non-compliance. Adjustments refer to the changes we make to items on a tax return to correct identified errors as part of the review process.

    This method provides insights, not only into the value of non-compliance but also into the proportion of the sample (and by extension the population) that is incorrectly reporting.

    The individuals not in business gap reflects the compliance gap. That is, it is an estimate of the tax revenue which is not collected as a result of people failing to comply with the law at the time, whether inadvertently or intentionally.

    Trends and latest findings

    We have completed two years of a four-year random enquiry program, so it is too early to infer a trend from the gap results. We will provide a trend analysis in future years as we continue to release these estimates. Work to estimate the tax gap for individuals who are not in business for the 2015–16 year is underway and the next random enquiry program is in progress.

    Internationally, tax gaps are difficult to compare. This is due to the large variations in legal and tax systems, market definitions, availability of data and the methodologies used to estimate gaps across tax jurisdictions.

    While the individuals not in business tax gap estimate is not directly comparable for these reasons, the methodology used for this estimate is used in similar tax regimes. The United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (USA) also use random enquiry programs to estimate some income tax gaps, as they are considered best practice when estimating from large and homogenous taxpayer populations.

    In our random enquiry program, we found adjustments were made in both tax agent and self-prepared returns, including:

    • incorrect claiming of deductions for work-related expenses and/or rental property expenses
    • careless administration or careless preparation of the return. Lack of connection to income earned or substantiation for expenses were also significant issues.

    In establishing the estimate, we also identified that unreported income from cash wages contributes around $1.4 billion to the gap.

    While the amounts over-claimed and under-reported by individual taxpayers may be small, collectively across a large population the overall revenue impact is significant.

    The following table summarises the gap estimates for the first two years of the random enquiry program.

    Income tax gap – individuals not in business 2013–14 to 2014–15(a)

    Gap estimate

    2013–14

    2014–15

    Tax paid ($ m)

    121,163

    128,310

    Net gap ($ m)

    7,474

    8,761

    Theoretical tax liability

    128,636

    137,070

    Net gap (%)

    5.80%

    6.40%

    Amendments($m)

    601

    529

    Gross gap ($m)

    8,075

    9,290

    Gross gap (%)

    6.30%

    6.80%

    (a) Data used for this estimate was extracted from ATO systems as at 31 January 2018. See Data sources for more information.

    The following graph shows tax reported and the net income tax gap over the same period.

    Amount paid and net gap – individuals not in business 2013–14 to 2014–15

    Bar chart showing the amount paid and net gap in $ billion for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

    Findings from the random enquiry program

    The random enquiry programs (REPs) for 2013–14 and 2014–15 saw 858 reviews undertaken across a representative sample of the individuals not in business population.

    The sample was a sufficient size to provide a suitable representation of the population. It is proportionally similar to, or greater than, other comparable countries' programs (for example, UK and USA).

    During the selection process the population was stratified across all income to ensure the overall population was appropriately represented. Taxpayers in the tax-free threshold and low through to very high incomes were represented as well as taxpayers with rental properties.

    We use a confidence interval to quantify the 'precision' of the estimate. This is discussed in detail in the Limitations section. We are confident that the true value of the net gap lies between 5.5% to 7.3% or $7.4 billion to $10.1 billion in 2014-15. The sample includes taxpayers who lodged through various channels and the proportion of agent-prepared returns in the random sample was representative of the total individuals not in business population.

    In the full sample of 858 cases the incidence of adjustment was 72%, with 78% of agent-prepared returns being adjusted. This is compared to 57% of returns adjusted for people who prepared their own tax (self-preparers).

    Adjustments to items tended to fall between $150 and $1,000, with the median adjustment being $210. While individually small, when tallied across the whole population, the effect is significant. On average three items were adjusted in each tax return.

    There are 16 cases where we have made adjustments to items on a tax return solely in the taxpayer’s favour. There are 44 cases where we have increased and decreased items across the return where the overall effect of these adjustments to items is a reduction in tax payable.

    Across the random enquiry program, adjustments to income items were more prevalent in self-prepared returns. Adjustments to deduction items (including rental expenses, work-related expenses, gifts and donations and other deductions) were higher for agent-prepared returns.

    Comparison of the incidence of adjustment in the 2013–14 and 2014–15 REPs

     

    Full sample
    no.

    Full sample
    %

    Agent-prepared sample
    no.

    Agent-prepared sample
    %

    Self-prepared sample
    no.

    Self-prepared sample
    %

    All cases

    858

    100%

    614

    72%

    244

    28%

    Cases with adjustments

    615

    72%

    476

    78%

    139

    57%

    Cases with adjustments only in the taxpayer’s favour

    16

    2%

    7

    1%

    9

    4%

    The distribution of the value of the item adjustments show that 37% of adjustments are $150 or less and 25% are over $1,000.

    Distribution of item adjustment rates and values for 2013–14 and 2014–15 REPs

    Range of adjustments

    Self-prepared % of all adjustments

    Self-prepared % of values adjusted

    Agent-prepared % of all adjustments

    Agent-prepared % of values adjusted

    Total % of all adjustments

    Total % of values

    $0–$150

    9%

    <1%

    28%

    1%

    37%

    2%

    $151–$300

    4%

    1%

    12%

    2%

    16%

    3%

    $301–$500

    2%

    <1%

    9%

    3%

    11%

    4%

    $501–$1,000

    3%

    2%

    10%

    7%

    12%

    8%

    More than $1,000

    5%

    12%

    20%

    71%

    25%

    83%

    Total

    22%

    15%

    78%

    85%

    100%

    100%

    Analysis indicated that adjustment rates were broadly similar across types of agent practices and agent locations. Small (83%), medium (80%) and high bulk preparers (79%) tiers have the highest adjustment rates. The large group (69%) and self-preparers (61%) have the lowest adjustment rates.Footnote1

    Comparison of agent adjustments by tier

    Bar chart showing the comparison of agent outcomes by tier: small 64, medium 167, high-bulk preparers 322, large 61, self-preparer 244. Shows percentage of nil outcome and an outcome over the total tier population.

    Based on the analysis and findings of the random enquiry program in addition to insight from our overall engagement program we can highlight particular themes that contribute to the gap.

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    Work-related expenses

    Work-related expenses are a key component of the individuals not in business income tax gap.

    Each case can have multiple adjustments across the return. Of the 2,388 adjustments made in identified cases, almost 70% relate to deduction items, and 51% (or 1,212) of all adjustments made were at work-related expense items. Of those work-related expenses adjustments 78% (or 949) were made in agent-prepared returns.

    There were a number of common reasons for the adjustments that we observed in the random enquiry program.

    We observed claims for expenses that were actually paid for or reimbursed by the employer, as well as claims that appeared legitimate, but could not be substantiated.

    We also saw mistakes and guesswork relating to apportioning work-related expenses along with claims for ‘standard’ deductions where exceptions to substantiation provisions exist. Many taxpayers believed they did not have to explain their claim if a substantiation exception was applicable.

    Work-related expenses adjustments and reasons

    The following two pie charts display the number of adjustments to work-related expense items and the reasons for these adjustments.

    The highest rate of adjustments was for 'other expenses', in particular incorrect claims for home office, mobile phone and internet. Claims for clothing and car were also frequently adjusted.

    Number of adjustments to work-related expenses

    Pie chart showing the number of adjustments to work-related expense labels: Clothing 381, Car 236, Travel 91, Self-education 50, Other expenses 454.

    Reasons for work-related expense adjustments

    Pie chart showing the reasons for work-related expense label adjustments: Nexus and substantiation 25%, over-claimed 18%, other 15%, nexus 11%, non-reponse 6%, substantiation 26%.

    Undeclared income

    Income that has been omitted, particularly cash wages, also contributes to the tax gap for individuals not in business.

    Some people don't declare income and payments to avoid paying the right amount of tax or superannuation. For example, some businesses may pay their employees 'cash-in-hand’ and some taxpayers do not report all the cash income they earn in their tax return.

    Our estimate of the proportion of the tax gap for individuals not in business for 2014–15, attributable to unreported income is $1.4 billion.

    Identifying non-declared wages is difficult, even in a random enquiry program. To account for the impact of undeclared cash wages (an aspect of the black economy), we take a different approach.

    In separate top-down methods (the PAYG withholding gap and the superannuation guarantee gap) we have identified that an uplift factor of 1.2% is needed to be applied to the national accounts wages to account for cash wages.

    We convert this amount to an income tax amount and apportion the amount to the individuals not in business population based on the population proportion.

    Our approach to addressing the non-reporting of cash wages is incorporated in our black economy strategy.

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    Other findings and observations

    Observations from our broader compliance activities reinforce findings from our random enquiry program, further supporting our understanding of what is driving the gap.

    Deductions for rental property expenses are also a key contributor to the gap. Our observations indicate that the most common reasons for adjustments to rental items on a tax return are a lack of, or incorrect, apportionment of expenses.

    This includes, for example, deduction claims where the property was only available to rent for part of the year or claims for interest expenses where a portion of the loan was used for private purposes. We also see mistakes relating to capital works and capital allowance deductions.

    ATO action to reduce the gap

    The key to an effective tax system is a high level of willing participation. The level of willing participation depends on the extent to which the community values the system and has trust and confidence in us as administrators.

    Our strategies to reduce the gap, based on this principle, include:

    • improving and tailoring our public advice and guidance material, tools and services
    • increasing the quantity and quality of the data we collect
    • adopting new ways of using data and technology to make lodging returns and substantiating deductions simpler for taxpayers and their agents; this includes streamlining reporting processes and pre-filling more information in tax returns
    • helping taxpayers and their agents report correctly, using 'nudge' messages and other correspondence to alert them where we see something unusual
    • better understanding the circumstances of debt, doing what we can to prevent it and offering practical repayment options
    • taking firmer action to address non-compliance among higher-risk taxpayers and tax agents, including additional audits, particularly in areas driving the tax gap
    • pursuing penalties or prosecution – or referring tax agents to the Tax Practitioners Board in the most serious of cases.

    We also provide insights to government, through The Treasury, about potential opportunities for statutory law reform to improve the tax system. We do this when we see where the law is difficult for both taxpayers and ourselves to apply, and which can increase compliance costs. In addition, we suggest where the law can be strengthened to allow us to more effectively deal with compliance risks.

    The government has recently moved to restrict or remove specific types of rental income deductions, including travel to a residential investment property, as part of their Housing Tax Integrity Bill 2017.

    We seek to administer the tax system in a way that is fair and consistent, where our interactions with taxpayers and their agents are professional, contemporary and tailored to different circumstances.

    While we focus on preventing non-compliance, to reduce the gap we will take action to protect the integrity of the tax system and ensure that everyone – from each individual taxpayer through to the largest corporate group – pays the right amount of tax.

    Methodology

    Individuals who are not in business are subject to tax on income that is generated through their employment, and from any additional investment income they have – for example, rental property income.

    Income tax is payable by individuals based on their annual taxable income. Overall rates of individual income tax follow a progressive system that includes a tax-free threshold, through to an upper rate of 45%, as well as levies such as the Medicare levy.

    For salary and wages, income tax is collected through the pay as you go (PAYG) withholding system. Any income generated through investments, such as dividends on shares, or interest on bank deposits would be reported in the tax return. Additionally, capital gains tax payable on any profits generated from the sale of capital assets (for example shares or property) is also reported in this annual lodgment.

    Balancing adjustments are made when the annual tax return is lodged at tax time, and the person may be paid a refund or incur a debt.

    The gap estimate is made on the basis of the law, as applicable for the relevant income year. New or recent law changes will not be reflected in gap estimates.

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    Selecting the methodology

    The selection of an estimate methodology depends heavily on the design of the tax system, the characteristics of the population, and the data available. In the case of income tax for individuals not in business, there are no aggregate macroeconomic measures suitable for estimating the value of a tax gap with sufficient reliability or accuracy. Therefore, the use of a top-down approach is not possible.

    We examined bottom-up approaches based on extrapolating the results of ATO operational audits (that is, the amounts of non-compliance detected in audits of individual taxpayers). However, given the large number of taxpayers in this population, there is insufficient audit coverage to allow such a method to be reliable. In addition, operational audits are targeted at taxpayers predicted to have a high risk of non-compliance in specific areas, for example, over-claiming of work related expenses. Therefore, operational audit results are not representative of the wider taxpayer population. Consequently, we discarded this approach as not being able to generate a gap estimate of sufficient credibility or reliability.

    Early discussions at the start of the tax gap program highlighted that a credible tax gap estimate cannot be produced for individuals without some form of a random enquiry program. The random sampling method is considered highly credible, best practice, and is commonly used by international jurisdictions for tax gap estimation of large homogenous taxpayer populations.

    We are conscious of the potential inconvenience such programs have on taxpayers, and have implemented them in a manner that minimises impact on the community. Key to this is verifying taxpayers by drawing on the data we have matched to ensure we only contact people in the sample where we need to.

    Applying the methodology

    There are five steps in applying the random enquiry program bottom-up methodology to estimate the individuals not in business income tax gap. The steps are summarised in the following diagram and described in more detail below.

    Steps to estimate the individuals not in business income tax gap

    Steps to estimate the gross gap:■ Step 1: Estimate unreported amounts and extrapolate■ Step 2: Estimate for errors not detected■ Step 3: Estimate for non-pursuable debt■ Step 4: Estimate the Individuals gross gap by adding together steps 1 to 3■ Step 5: Subtract compliance outcomes and voluntary disclosures from Step 4 to estimate the Individuals net gap■ Step 6: Add tax voluntarily paid to Step 4 to estimate theoretical liability.

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    Step 1: Estimate unreported amounts and extrapolate to population in each stratum

    The two-year bundled sample drawn from the random enquiry program is split into two key groups:

    • those that progressed to review
    • those that were verified.

    We combine the incidence rates and means from these two groups and extrapolate to the population of individuals not in business to estimate the unreported tax liability.

    Step 2: Estimate for errors not detected

    We apply an uplift to the unreported tax estimate to correct for errors not identified through the random enquiry program.

    These factors include non-detected amounts relating to:

    • cash wages
    • other income
    • deductions
    • non-registration or non-lodgment.

    Step 3: Estimate for non-pursuable debt

    We add the value of non-pursuable debt.

    Step 4: Estimate the gross gap

    Next, we add together the results of Steps 1 to 3 to arrive at the gross gap estimate.

    Step 5: Estimate the net gap

    In Step 5, we take the gross gap amount determined in Step 4 and deduct the compliance outcomes and voluntary disclosure amounts (sum of all positive amendments) to arrive at the net gap estimate.

    Step 6: Estimate theoretical liability

    We then add the gross gap (determined in Step 4) to the tax voluntarily paid amount (being total tax paid minus negative amendments and non-pursuable debt) to estimate the theoretical tax liability.

    Summary of the estimation process

    The following table provides a summary of each step of the estimation process and the results for each year.

    Summary of estimation process ($m)(a)(b)

    Step

    Description

    2013–14

    2014–15

    1

    Estimate unreported amounts and extrapolate result to population in each stratum

    6,546

    7,535

    2

    Estimate for errors not detected

    1,429

    1,654

    3

    Estimate for non-pursuable debt

    100

    100

    4

    Estimate the gross gap (by adding together the results of Steps 1 to 3)

    8,075

    9,290

    5.1

    Subtract compliance outcomes and voluntary disclosures

    601

    529

    5.2

    Net gap

    7,474

    8,761

    6.1

    Add tax voluntarily reported and paid to amount in Step 4

    120,562

    127,781

    6.2

    Theoretical liability

    128,636

    137,070

    6.3

    Gross gap (%)

    6.3%

    6.8%

    6.4

    Net gap (%)

    5.8%

    6.4%

     (a) Data used for this estimate was extracted from ATO systems as at 31 January 2018.(b) Amounts and percentages may not reconcile due to rounding.

    Limitations

    The limitations associated with estimation of the individuals not in business tax gap are listed below:

    • The precision of the tax gap estimate is limited by the two-year sample size. We expect to build toward a four-year rolling sample, which will reduce the confidence intervals as we progress.
    • To reduce compliance costs for the taxpayer, materiality thresholds were applied at the data-driven review stage. However, if a case develops into a manual review, all items in the tax return are investigated regardless of value.
    • There is no independent data source that can provide a credible or reliable macroeconomic-based estimate (unlike indirect taxes).
    • The 2013–14 income year estimates do not account for the effect on offsets of adjustments to income and deductions. Where there are adjustments to income and deductions, the estimates reflect the change in tax on taxable income.
    • A further limitation of the random enquiry program, and similar programs undertaken by tax administrators in other jurisdictions, is uncertainty around the impact of the non-detection error. The enquiries undertaken do not discover the full extent of non-compliance.

    Confidence in the random sample findings

    A confidence interval quantifies the 'precision' of the estimate from a random sample relative to the true value from the population.

    A 95% confidence level is considered industry best practice in terms of statistical analysis and is the most commonly used level by researchers, including HM Revenue and Customs in respect to its equivalent tax gap program

    Using a 95% confidence level, means we are 95% confident that the true value of the net gap lies in the confidence interval 5.5% to 7.3% or $7.4 billion to $10.1 billion. The upper and lower bounds of the 95% confidence intervals are provided below. The gap estimates we make public reflect the mid-point of the lower and upper bound estimates.

    95% Confidence interval - upper and lower bound estimates – individuals not in business 2013–14 to 2014–15

    This graph demonstrates the gross gap confidence interval for the 2013-14 to 2014-15. The detail from this graph are represented in the table headed 95% confidence interval results – individuals not in business 2013-14 to 2014-15.

    95% Confidence interval results - individuals not in business 2013-14 to 2014-15

     

    Estimates

    2013-14

    2014-15

    ($m)

    (%)

    ($m)

    (%)

    Gross gap upper bound

    10,046

    7.70%

    10,641

    7.70%

    Gross gap point estimate

    8,075

    6.30%

    9,290

    6.80%

    Gross gap lower bound

    6,103

    4.80%

    7,938

    5.80%

     

    Net gap upper bound

    9,441

    7.20%

    10,134

    7.30%

    Net gap point estimate

    7,474

    5.80%

    8,761

    6.40%

    Net gap lower bound

    5,562

    4.40%

    7,412

    5.50%

    As the program continues, we would expect to see the upper and lower bounds of the range to narrow as the total sample size increases. We aim to have a total sample of 2,000 by the fourth year of this program and it is expected to produce a 95% confidence interval in the range of 5.7% to 7.0% or $7.9 billion to $9.7 billion.

    It should be noted that the estimate from the random enquiry program is not the only component of the Individuals not in business income tax gap estimate. To establish the overall gap we drew on operational data for specific compliance risk areas. For example we looked at failure by employers to withhold tax and report wage income of their employees, the non-lodgment of tax returns and the non-payment of debts. These findings were then combined with findings from the random enquiry program to produce an overall gap estimate.

    Definitions

    Black economy

    The black economy includes the 'cash economy' or 'non-observed economy'. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) refers to the 'economic underground'.

    The black economy involves economic activity not declared, which may be a result of attempts to avoid tax obligations.

    National Accounts data makes a small allowance for expenditure associated with the 'underground economy' (cash economy transactions, transactions relating to other avoidance measures, and understatement of income in Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) surveys).

    Bottom-up approach

    A bottom-up approach involves a detailed examination of data sources, such as tax returns, audit results, risk registers or third-party data-matching information. We then extrapolate the results to establish the extent of non-compliance across the whole population. From this we estimate the tax gap.

    This approach generally involves applying statistical techniques to estimate the incidence of adjustment and average value of non-compliance. A bottom-up approach is typically used for direct taxes.

    Median adjustment

    The median is the midway point of all adjustments to items made. The median differs from the mean, which is the arithmetic average (adding all adjustments and dividing by the number of items on the tax return adjusted). The reason we use median rather than mean is because it is a more accurate representation of adjustments, as it reflects the sample size being used. For example, a small number of large value adjustments will overstate the true value of adjustments in the sample.

    Stratified sampling

    A type of sampling method in which the population is divided into homogeneous groups.

    Top-down approach

    A top-down approach uses externally-provided aggregated data sources to estimate the size of the tax base. From this we estimate the theoretical tax liability. The difference between the theoretical tax liability and the amount we receive is the estimated tax gap.

    A top-down approach is typically used for indirect taxes.

    Non-detection

    Some errors are not identified in bottom-up methodologies. To fully estimate the gap, we increase the amounts that we do identify to account for amounts we don’t. We refer to this increase as an 'uplift factor'. Non-detection is inherently difficult to estimate and we will revise the uplift factors applied as our methodologies improve.

    Data sources

    This gap estimate draws on the following data sources:

    • case data from our random enquiry program database
    • case data from our case management system
    • tax return data from our data warehouse
    • population information from our group wealth system and related-entity model
    • non pursuable debt, from our data warehouse
    • demographic information from our Taxation statistics data series
    • Inconsistencies with other available population and revenue information may be evident. This is due to the date that data was extracted. Information for this estimate has allowed for additional lodgments and amendments to be processed and therefore additional information to be available for reporting.

    Reliability

    The ATO estimate of the individuals not in business income tax gap has been assessed by an independent expert panel, as described in our Principles and approaches to measuring gaps document.

    Based on advice from the independent expert panel, the reliability rating for the individuals not in business income tax gap estimate is medium.

    We take the results from the random enquiry program, and project those results over the total lodged population of taxpayers, including those who lodge late. A preliminary estimate for people outside the system is included to factor in the black economy. This method looks at all items on a tax return, and the taxpayer information we have received. Non-payment is also addressed.

    The key assumption with the random enquiry program is that the observations of the sample apply to the population. While we have stratified the sampling process to ensure it is representative, we are only two years into the four years required to build the full sample. We are seeing consistent issues arising in both samples, and the gap does not materially move between years, giving us confidence in the results we are seeing.

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    Footnote 1
    Agent group descriptions:Small agents include practices with up to 300 clients. This group also includes agents with no clients and agents whose registration details are either cancelled or out-of-date.Medium agents include practices with greater than 300 clients. Practices may be personal tax focused, that is more than 70% individual clients and more than 500 individual, partnership and trust clients or NOT personal tax focused with more than 300 clients.High bulk preparer agents include practices with greater than 1,000 clients of whom more than 70% are sole trader and individual clients.Large agents include the big four accounting firms as well as practices with greater than 1,000 clients who are medium – large public or private entities.Self-preparers are individuals who prepare and lodge their own income tax returns.

    Return to footnote 1 referrer

      Last modified: 20 Jul 2018QC 56246