Surgeons earned an average taxable income of $393,467 in 2016.
Surgeons earned an average taxable income of $393,467 in 2016.

Richest, poorest suburbs revealed

THE Australian Taxation Office has revealed the postcodes around the country with the highest and lowest salaries, as well as the top-earning occupations.

The highest average taxable income of $192,500 was recorded in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's 2027 postcode, which covers the exclusive eastern Sydney suburbs of Darling Point, Edgecliff and Point Piper, according to the 2015-16 Tax Stats.

NSW was also home to the lowest-earning area, postcode 2387, which covers Bulyeroi and Rowena in far-northeast NSW, where the average taxable income reported by 135 taxpayers - compared with 5995 in the top postcode - was just $12,004.

"Perhaps unsurprisingly, the medical profession does dominate the top income categories, and the eastern suburbs of Sydney dominate the postcodes, although one thing that did strike me was that the highest and lowest postcodes are in NSW," ATO second commissioner Andrew Mills said.

"Because we're talking about taxable incomes, we're dealing with people not only who have full-time jobs and in some cases at the top end sole practitioners, but we also have people working part time in country areas. They could be seasonal workers, it could be a range of factors."

The Tax Stats are an overview of 16 million income tax returns for 13.5 million individuals, 940,000 companies, as well as superannuation funds, partnerships and trusts lodged for 2016. Mr Mills said the goal was to be "transparent about the data we collect and share, getting the data out into the public domain".

Victoria was home to both the second highest and second lowest earning areas, with Melbourne's 3142 postcode covering Toorak and Hawksburn reporting an average taxable income of $190,777, and 3482 covering Watchem, Watchem West, Morton Plains, Warmur and Massey on just $15,411.

In fact, Victoria had five out of the bottom 10 postcodes. "The interesting thing to observe there is in the previous 2014-15 year, [the bottom] was dominated by Queensland, they had seven out of the 10," Mr Mills said.

Out of the professions, surgeons had the highest average taxable income of $393,467, followed by anaesthetists on $359,056, internal medicine specialists on $291,140, financial dealers on $263,309 and psychiatrists on $211,024.

Other medical practitioners came in sixth on $199,590, followed by judicial and other legal professionals on $198,219, mining engineers on $166,557, chief executives and managing directors on $158,249 and engineering managers on $148,852.

According to the ATO, out of nearly 1200 occupations recorded, there were fewer than 100 where women had a higher average taxable income than men - they included receptionists, schoolteachers, beauticians and goat farmers.

One third of Australians claimed a deduction for a charitable gift or donation in 2016 for a total of $2.8 billion, with the average gift size of $211. The ACT was the most generous with 41 per cent of taxpayers claiming a deduction, followed by 37 per cent in Victoria and 36 per cent in the NT.

With the Tax Stats released every year, attention is often drawn to a small number of taxpayers, either individuals or businesses, who paid little or no tax despite large turnover. Mr Mills cautioned against reading too much into the headline figures.

"One of the problems with that data is it often looks at the headline of gross income," he said.
"If you've got a sole trader, even someone who's running a small business [such as a] mechanic, they could have $1 million gross income but you have wages, costs and so on, so the taxable income might be low," he said.

"So it's a bit crazy to look at gross income and not net."

He added there could sometimes be "odd things happening" with the data on salary and wage earners because the broad "tax advisory expense" deduction category included things like interest paid to the ATO and legal costs.

"Don't jump to conclusions," he said. "That's a very messy story. So for this tax season and in subsequent years [we will] start breaking out a bit more info for added granularity."

HIGHEST INCOMES BY POSTCODE

• $192,500 - 2027 (NSW: Darling Point, Edgecliff, Point Piper)

• $190,777 - 3142 (Victoria: Hawksburn, Toorak)

• $182,829 - 2030 (NSW: Dover Heights, Rose Bay North, Vaucluse)

• $180,412 - 2023 (NSW: Bellevue Hill)

• $167,266 - 3944 (Victoria: Portsea)

• $161,360 - 2088 (NSW: Mosman, Spit Junction)

• $159,736 - 2063 (NSW: Northbridge)

• $150,230 - 6011 (Western Australia: Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove)

• $147,757 - 2110 (NSW: Hunters Hill, Woolwich)

• $146,521 - 2028 (NSW: Double Bay)

LOWEST INCOMES BY POSTCODE

• $12,004 - 2387 (NSW: Bulyeroi, Rowena)

• $15,411 - 3482 (Victoria: Watchem, Watchem West, Morton Plains)

• $18,291 - 4732 (Queensland: Tablederry, Muttaburra)

• $21,540 - 3889 (Victoria: Errinundra, Manorina, Club Terrace)

• $22,119 - 2308 (NSW: Newcastle University, Callaghan)

• $22,520 - 3542 (Victoria: NSW: Tittybong, Cokum, Lalbert)

• $23,641 - 2386 (NSW: Burren Junction, Nowley, Drildool)

• $23,881 - 5306 (South Australia: Wynarka)

• $24,261 - 3391 (Victoria: Brim)

• $24,641 - 3237 (Victoria: Weeaproinah, Wyelangta, Yuulong)

Source: ATO Taxation Statistics 2015-16



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