ATO tax statistics reveal the richest postcodes, occupations

author-avatar By on March 29, 2019
ATO tax statistics reveal the richest postcodes, occupations

Photo by caroline voelker on Unsplash

Surgeons and anesthetists are the country’s richest professions, while the most exclusive places to live lie mostly around Sydney’s northern beaches, the ATO’s latest statistics show.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has released the annual Taxation Statistics report for the 2016–17 income year, presenting snapshots of data from a total of 16.5 million income tax returns for nearly 14 million people.

Based on the average taxable income, surgeons remain the highest paid workers in the country, raking in an average of just under $395,000 a year.

Anesthetists come second with an average salary of over $367,000, while engineering managers round out the top 10 with $147,500.

Meanwhile, fast food cooks, hospitality employees and farmers are in the bottom 10 for taxable income, earning an average of roughly $18,600, $19,100 and $22,400 respectively.

Of the 1,100 occupations recorded by the ATO, there were 72 occupations where females earned more than males on average.

Female authors earned the most by comparison, making $85,006 to the average male author’s $68,342.

Futures traders, magistrates, pro surfers and illustrators were some of the other jobs to see females out-earn their male counterparts.

The highest-earning profession however, – surgeons – still saw a pretty sizable pay gap, with male surgeons earning an average of $430,128 compared to $227,034 for female surgeons.

Top 10 richest and poorest postcodes

New South Wales – or really just Sydney – dominated the list of the top 10 highest earning postcodes, claiming eight of the top 10. The remaining two belong to Victoria.

Coasters Retreat in Palm Beach (postcode 2108) is officially Australia’s richest suburb, recording an average taxable income.

Melbourne’s 3142 postcode, covering Toorak and Hawksburn, is the second richest, at $193,904.

Rounding out the top 10 is Hunters Hill in Woolwich (2110), which had an average taxable income of $156,069.

This data is unsurprising considering the cost of just buying a house in these areas: Sydney and Melbourne have average house prices of
$1,062,619 and $833,321 respectively, according to Domain’s House Price Report.

Source: ATO 
highest earnin

The difference in income between the richest ($230,330) and the poorest (
$20,589) is nearly $210,000 annually – this unfortunate title belongs to the suburb of Newcastle University in NSW.

This result shouldn’t come as too much of a shock however, as the vast majority of people living there would be…university students.

The second lowest-earning postcode is 4611 (Mondure and Marshlands) in Queensland, which has an average taxable income of just $23,225.

In fact, Queensland dominates the poorest postcode list, just as NSW dominates the rich list.

Five of the poorest 10 postcodes nationally lie in the Sunshine State – the Queensland postcode of Kooralgin and Cooyar is the 10th lowest at just under $30,000 in annual taxable income.

Top 10 richest Australian postcodes

PostcodeStateSuburbAvg taxable income/loss
2108 NSW COASTERS RETREAT, CURRAWONG BEACH, PALM BEACH $230,330
3142 VIC HAWKSBURN, TOORAK $193,904
2027 NSW DARLING POINT, EDGECLIFF, POINT PIPER $187,769
2030 NSW DOVER HEIGHTS, ROSE BAY NORTH, VAUCLUSE, WATSONS BAY $178,282
2063 NSW NORTHBRIDGE $169,365
2023 NSW BELLEVUE HILL $169,334
2028 NSW DOUBLE BAY $160,378
2088 NSW MOSMAN, SPIT JUNCTION $158,897
3944 VIC PORTSEA $156,079
2110 NSW HUNTERS HILL, WOOLWICH $156,069

Source: ATO

Top 10 poorest Australian postcodes

PostcodeStateSuburbAvg taxable income/loss
2308 NSW NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY, CALLAGHAN $20,589
4611 QLD MONDURE, MARSHLANDS $23,225
3482 VIC WATCHEM, WATCHEM WEST, MORTON PLAINS, WARMUR, MASSEY $24,346
2052 NSW UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES $24,855
3889 VIC ERRINUNDRA, MANORINA, COMBIENBAR, BEMM RIVER, CABBAGE TREE CREEK $24,863
2356 NSW GWABEGAR $26,474
4731 QLD YARAKA, ISISFORD $29,127
4705 QLD MOUNT GARDINER, MACKENZIE RIVER, MARLBOROUGH, CLARKE CREEK $29,223
4732 QLD TABLEDERRY, MUTTABURRA $29,584
4402 QLD KOORALGIN, UPPER COOYAR CREEK, COOYAR $29,891

Source: ATO

Other interesting snippets

It’s not just total income by job and postcode the data unveiled. There’s a treasure trove of information for the data nerds out there – here’s a selection of some of the more interesting bits:

Australians a charitable bunch

In total, Australians donated $3.5 billion to charity in 2016-17, with an average gift size of $770 from those who did so.

33% of Australian taxpayers claimed deductions on their charitable donations, so there may well be many more out there who donated but didn’t claim anything.

Western Australia was the most charitable of the bunch: 30% of residents claimed an average deduction of nearly $1,200.

By contrast, the Northern Territory was the least charitable, with 34% of residents claiming an average deduction of $405.

Average taxable income remains fairly stagnant

According to the data, our average and median taxable incomes have increased, if only slightly.

The average taxable income for 2016-17 was $59,014. In 2015-16, it was $58,689, an increase of $325.

The median income, however, (the middle of the data set) was $44,392. This is an increase of $505 from the previous year.

Super funds low

The average superannuation balance in 2016-17 was $123,024:

  • $146,421 for men;
  • $114,350 for women

This is an overall increase of $12,079 per balance – about 10%.

BUT, the median super balance is a mere $41,731, indicating the average figure is skewed by outlying accounts with much higher balances.

This $41,731 number isn’t even enough to have a ‘modest’ retirement, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s figure of $70,000.

Tax agent, or do it yourself?

The vast majority of people actually did their tax return through a tax agent – 71% of them in fact.

27% used the government’s myTax website, while the remaining 2% stuck to tradition and did paper returns.


For feedback or queries, email will.jolly@savings.com.au

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William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.

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