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  • Appendix 1 – What information we collect, hold, use and disclose, and why

    Australian Business Register records

    The Australian Business Register (ABR) records unique identifiers called Australian business numbers (ABN). The ABR also records other identity information about entities that carry on enterprises in Australia or that, when they carry on an enterprise; make their supplies in connection with Australia.

    The ABR records the details of individuals a business entity has nominated (called ‘nominated representatives’) or of individuals who carry on a business themselves, to facilitate that business’ electronic dealings with government agencies.

    Some of the ABR information is publicly accessible through the ABN Lookup tool at This is where the public version of the ABR is maintained. A person who does not wish to have their personal details publicly displayed can apply to the Registrar (who is also the Commissioner of Taxation) to not have those details disclosed in ABN Lookup.

    Information that is not publicly available may be disclosed to a wide range of government agencies under section 30 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 so that those other agencies can carry out their functions. Personal information contained in the ABR may also be disclosed to courts and tribunals in connection with proceedings under a taxation law.

    Prosecution and law enforcement records

    We investigate fraud and suspected abuses of the tax system. Alleged offenders may be prosecuted.

    We maintain a database of prosecutions for breaches of taxation, superannuation and excise laws.

    Personal information collected, held, used and disclosed includes names, addresses, telephone numbers, TFNs, details of alleged offences, company and trust affiliations, known assets and liabilities, land title information, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre information, related persons details and information from financial institutions and other jurisdictions.

    We receive requests for personal information from law enforcement agencies in relation to both taxation and non-taxation matters. We disclose personal information to law enforcement agencies according to the legislative provisions that permit these disclosures. We also make disclosures to law enforcement agencies of our own volition and according to these provisions.

    We keep a record of law enforcement agency requests for personal information and of the personal information we disclose to law enforcement agencies.

    Prescribed taskforces

    Taxation laws permit the disclosure of personal information to multi-agency prescribed taskforces. Prescribed taskforces are established to address priority issues and must have protecting the public finances of Australia as one of their purposes.

    Personal information disclosed to prescribed taskforces includes names, addresses, contact details and TFNs, together with information from third party sources including Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre information, Australian Securities and Investment Commission information, details of real and personal property held and travel movements.

    Excise records

    The purpose of these records is to control the manufacture, storage, delivery and movement of excisable goods under the Excise Act 1901. Personal information collected, held, used and disclosed includes names, addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, TFNs, criminal history checks, financial, social security and land titles information.

    We also receive information from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the Customs and Border Protection Service and the Department of Home Affairs.

    Data matching records

    We maintain data-matching databases relating to activities such as on-line selling, trade suppliers, credit and debit card transactions, real property transactions and information from other government agencies, including states and territories. The purpose of these records is to increase our understanding of the behaviour and compliance profile of businesses and individuals involved in particular industries, identify employers whose registration status may not accurately reflect their business status, determine whether income tax returns have been lodged correctly and to identify compliance risks, trends and patterns.

    Call recordings

    We record all inbound and outbound telephone calls routed by our call management system in the contact centre environment. The call recording system also contains a screen capture facility. We use call recordings and screen captures for coaching and quality assurance purposes. We may also use this information for gathering business data, managing complaints, staff training, fraud investigations and in making system and business improvements.

    Public Key Technology records

    These records record those authorised individuals within an ABN registered business enterprise who interact with us via Public Key Technology. This involves the allocation of a unique electronic identity to an authorised individual within a business entity.

    The electronic identity is assigned a digital certificate that is electronically issued to the authorised individual within an ABN registered business enterprise. The current digital certificate is AUSkey. AUSkey is used to provide details of business activities and transactions to the ATO through our online services.

    Vendor records

    We collect, hold and use personal information about tenderers and suppliers to the ATO. The information is used to evaluate responses from tenderers for our procurement requirements and to manage supplier arrangements. Personal information collected, held and used may include:

    • names and addresses
    • contract details
    • tender responses
    • curriculum vitaes and employment histories of individual contractors
    • bank account and payment details
    • financial statements, credit ratings, cash securities and bank guarantees
    • declarations of pecuniary interests
    • character check records
    • security clearances
    • confidentiality undertakings
    • contract performance reports.

    Some personal information relating to contractors may be published on the Australian government’s procurement information system (AusTender). This will include the names of contractors, how much the contract was awarded for, business address and ABN.

    Employee records

    We collect, hold, use and disclose personal information in personnel records for the purpose of discharging the Commissioner of Taxation’s employer powers. ‘Employer powers’ means all the rights, duties and powers of an agency head under the Public Service Act 1999.

    Regulation 9.2 of the Public Service Regulations 1999 provides that an agency head may use or disclose personal information in their possession or control where the use or disclosure is necessary or relevant to the performance or exercise of the agency head’s employer powers.

      Last modified: 25 Oct 2019QC 39396