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  • Frequently asked questions

    These answer the most common questions we get from users and provide tips on how to find specific information:

    Which statistics are based on income year reporting and which are based on financial year reporting?

    Most of our statistics are based on processed tax returns, including:

    • individuals
    • companies
    • superannuation funds
    • partnerships
    • trusts
    • capital gains tax
    • fringe benefits tax (for the FBT year)
    • cost of tax compliance
    • industry benchmarks (financial ratios).

    Some of our statistics are based on liabilities relating to the most recent financial year. These include:

    • member contribution statement (MCS)
    • goods and services tax (GST)
    • wine equalisation tax (WET)
    • luxury car tax (LCT)
    • petroleum resource rent tax (PRRT)
    • excise and fuel schemes
    • pay as you go withholding and instalments
    • industry benchmarks (activity statement ratios).

    When we reach our income year processing cut-off date of 31 October in the year following the income year, the financial year based statistics for the year ahead have already been collected and can also be included in the current taxation statistics report.

    Additionally, a small number of our statistics contain information relating to both income and financial years.

    Why do statistics from previous years change in some detailed tables?

    In our detailed tables, statistics for the two preceding income years are updated. They change due to lodgments, amendments or cancellations received and processed after the cut-off date of the previous yearly report.

    Financial year data is not updated. The notes to each detailed table will identify the currency of the data included within.

    We recommend you exercise caution when comparing the statistics of the current and previous income years due to:

    • changes in legislation from year to year (such as changing income tax rates or thresholds)
    • additional (late) lodgments and amendments received after the cut-off date.

    For this reason the previous year data in summary tables and charts is not updated; to allow for a quick year on year (point-in-time) comparison to be undertaken.

    Why are numbers in the yearly taxation statistics different to numbers in other publications?

    There are several reasons why numbers in the taxation statistics may be different to numbers in other ATO, government or non-government publications.

    Difference in cut-off processing dates

    To compile our statistics, we choose a cut-off date of 31 October of the following year, allowing 16 months for a majority of returns to have been lodged and processed.

    Any return forms processed, or amendments made after this cut-off date are not included in the statistics shown in the report for that year.

    If a different cut-off date is chosen for another ATO publication, it is likely that the statistics reported would be different from the statistics we report in our yearly taxation statistics, even if they refer to the same income, financial or FBT year.

    Difference in the definition of terms

    Other publications may define some terms differently. For example, in our yearly taxation statistics report an individual's total income includes income from different sources, such as salary and wages, foreign income, rental income, pensions and government benefits. In other publications an individual's income may refer only to salary and wages.

    Difference in how an item is calculated

    Other publications and reports may use different formulae in calculating items also reported in our taxation statistics. The methodology we use is in our Definitions and calculations section.

    What is the difference between the Industry benchmarks and the Small business benchmarks?

    All benchmarks are calculated from information derived from income tax returns and activity statements. The difference is the range of benchmarks available and size of businesses represented.

    Industry benchmarks – include all individuals, companies, partnerships and trusts, for different levels of industry.

    Small business benchmarks – include only small businesses with turnover ranges of up to $15 million for over 100 industries.

    Can I obtain estimates or forecasts?

    No. We can only provide statistics and information on past income, financial or fringe benefits tax years. Requests for estimates and forecasts should be directed to the Treasury department.

    Where is the 100 People presentation?

    The 100 People presents the millions of tax returns received by us into an animation for 2008–09 and data for 2012–13. It represents those tax returns as 100 people.

    Can I request statistics, tables or information not included in the publication?

    We are able to undertake research and quality assurance to separately answer ad hoc requests that are not covered by this report. In some cases we may not be able to release the data due to confidentiality issues.

    To register your data request for consideration in future publications, please send an email to taxstats@ato.gov.au.

    How can I provide feedback?

    You can provide feedback or comments on our yearly taxation statistics report by emailing your comments to taxstats@ato.gov.au.

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    See also:

      Last modified: 24 Sep 2020QC 44934