Payroll Tax Definitions

Some of the terms used on this site are described below. These apply to the harmonised areas within Australian states and territories (unless indicated). They are provided for general information only. To view a description, select the letter your term begins with and then scroll through the listed definitions. For a more definitive definition, please refer to the indicated legislation or the Payroll Tax legilsation applicable in the state or territory you are interested in.

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Term Definition

Any payment that is in return for services.

return period

... in relation to an employer, means a period relating to which that employer is required to lodge a return under Payroll Tax legislation. 

services rendered

Work that a person performs for their employer that they have been paid a wage for - or will be paid for - is considered services rendered.


A share in a company and includes a stapled security.

significant wage change

A significant wage change happens during a month when the amount of annual wages that an employer can estimate at the end of the month differs by more than 30% from the annual wage figure used to calculate the fixed periodic deduction.

superannuation contribution

 A contribution paid or payable by an employer in respect of an employee – 

(a) to or as a superannuation fund within the meaning of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 of the Commonwealth; or

(b) as a superannuation guarantee charge within the meaning of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 of the Commonwealth; or

(c) to or as any other form of superannuation, provident or retirement fund or scheme including – 

     (i) the Superannuation Holding Accounts Special Account within the meaning of the Small Superannuation Accounts Act 1995 of the Commonwealth; and

     (ii) a retirement savings account within the meaning of the Retirement Savings Accounts Act 1997 of the Commonwealth; and

     (iii) a wholly or partly unfunded fund or scheme.

tax default

A payroll tax default occurs when a taxpayer fails to pay tax in accordance with the Payroll Tax Act (Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act in WA). Two types of tax default can occur:

Late Payment Tax Default – occurs when the correct amount of payroll tax is paid in full after the due date but before any action has been taken by the Commissioner.

Tax Shortfall Tax Default – any tax default, other than late payment.

taxable wages

Means wages that are taxable in the respective state or territory. It does not include exempt wages. 

termination payment

A payment made in consequence of the retirement from, or termination of, any office or employment of an employee. This includes:

  • unused annual leave and long service leave payments; 

  • employment termination payments, within the meaning of section 82-130 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (‘ITAA’), that would be included in the assessable income of an employee under Part 2-40 of the ITAA; 

  • transitional termination payments, within the meaning of section 82-10 of the Income Tax (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997 and any payment that would be an employment termination payment but for the fact that it was received more than 12 months after the termination; 

  • amounts paid or payable by a company as a consequence of terminating the services or office of a director; 

  • amounts paid or payable by a person taken to be an employer under the contractor provisions as a consequence of termination of the supply of services by a person taken to be an employee under those provisions. 


Means the Australian Capital Territory (including the Jervis Bay Territory) and the Northern Territory.