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  • How we use data and analytics

    Our success depends on our ability to use data to provide services that make it easy for taxpayers to comply and hard not to. We do this by simplifying and automating our processes wherever possible.

    We can receive, match and pre-fill large volumes of data from third-party providers, particularly in respect to income. This lets us share information we have about an individual’s tax affairs, with them or their agent, before they lodge a tax return.

    We are working with data providers to extend our data sources, expand the range of information we make available via pre-fill, and obtain data more quickly at the end of the income year, so we can provide a faster, more complete service.

    Our use of data is also transforming how we assess work-related expenses. Data and insights underpin our culture of service, our early intervention activities and our goal of prevention rather than correction.

    Using data and insights

    We use data and insights to understand our clients and to improve clients’ interactions with us. We gather data from an increasing variety and volume of sources. We use it to help us make better, faster and smarter decisions with measurable results and to solve problems and shape what we do for the community.

    We are building a stronger data culture and we are demonstrating our commitment in our 2018–19 Corporate plan. The use of data and insights is engrained in our corporate culture and values.

    Find out how we use data and analytics to design and deliver effective services for the Australian community:

    Providing a tailored client experience

    Using increasingly powerful data models and tools, we are able to make better use of our data holdings to:

    • support decision-making
    • advise government
    • deliver outcomes with agility.

    We seek to understand your circumstances holistically and tailor our support to your needs.

    Data and analytics provide us with a real-time view of:

    • your tax and super position
    • current circumstances
    • previous history with us.

    As a result, the service you receive is personalised to support your tax entitlements and obligations.

    Firm but fair

    Better use of data supports our early engagement with taxpayers. It helps us get things right from the start. It also enables us to identify those who are not doing the right thing.

    Data-matching is a powerful administrative and law enforcement tool.

    We want people to get what they are entitled to – no more, no less.

    We work with partner agencies to:

    • deliver services
    • share data, intelligence and expertise
    • participate in multi-agency task forces.

    Delivering greater automation and digital services

    Data helps us build streamlined and easy-to-use digital services that reduce the time you spend on your tax and super affairs.

    We help you get it right from the start

    Data provided to us is used to pre-fill annual tax returns.

    In 2017, 79.8 million data records were received and made available in pre-fill.

    Helping you make better choices

    Using real-time analytics, we can message taxpayers as they complete their tax return in myTax.

    'Nearest neighbour' methods are used to compare amounts entered to those of other people in similar circumstances. If claims are significantly different to what we expect, a message appears on their screen encouraging them to check.

    During tax time in 2017, 230,000 taxpayers (or nearly 7% of myTax users) received a pop-up message through myTax, with an increased number of people adjusting their return.

    The messaging process resulted in taxpayers adjusting the associated labels by around $95 million.

    Minimising the burden

    In 2017, for the first time, taxpayers lodging a return to request a refund of franking credits, had their returns automatically processed.

    We automated 51,000 refunds to individuals, eliminating their need to lodge a request for a refund, and saving them time and money.

    Refunds in excess of $19 million were delivered.

    Automated intelligence

    Inbound calls to our call centre are transcribed in bulk every few hours using speech recognition.

    The transcription is used for quality assurance, to detect patterns and trends in the topics raised by callers.

    A spike in calls on a particular issue indicates there could be a problem with our services.

    Increased calls on a particular topic allows us to update information we provide to our staff.

    We also extract caller sentiment from the audio and use that feedback to make further improvements.

    Acceleration of decision-making

    We use a common form of artificial intelligence known as machine learning.

    Machine learning algorithms can consume large amounts of data and provide timely analysis and assessment.

    We used machine learning to make sense of the large amount of data in the Panama and Paradise Papers. The information came to us in a variety of forms, such as emails and Word documents.

    To deal with this, we created data sets to train 'machine learning models' to detect patterns and relationships between people and entities. For example, searching for keywords and training an algorithm to categorise them in a certain way.

    Categorising the data manually would take months, as opposed to days with this process, saving us a great deal of time.

    Managing call centre volumes

    We are improving our ability to forecast call centre volumes on any given day, particularly during busy periods like Tax Time.

    We use machine learning algorithms to complement traditional forecasting methods –looking at long term trends.

    Machines are trained to use historical data to make improvements and are faster than ever at consuming vast quantities of information.

    This has led to better allocation of workloads and resources, which leads to better services for taxpayers.

    Protecting your data

    We recognise that data, information and systems security is important. The protection of your personal details and data is integral to the way store, use and share our data. Our priority is to protect the integrity and security of client data and we keep pace with technology that protects it.

    Cyber Security

    We have a robust security framework, ensuring the confidentiality and reliability of our digital services. We continue to adapt and improve our technology to address emerging cyber risks. Data is at the centre of our cyber security strategy to ensure we exceed community expectations for data security and privacy. We regularly assess our systems against industry and government standards so they remain contemporary, reliable and effective.

    Protecting your privacy

    Data is a strategic asset. We respect your privacy and take our responsibility to safeguard your personal information seriously.

    Our management of data requires responsibility with respect to:

    • what that data is used
    • who the data is shared with
    • the purpose of the data.

    We only collect personal information if it is reasonably necessary for, or directly related to, our functions and activities. These include:

    • administering tax and superannuation laws
    • administering the Australian Business Register
    • the Commissioner of Taxation’s functions and activities as an employer.

    Laws to protect your privacy

    There are a number of laws that protect your privacy.

    The Privacy Act 1988

    The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) regulates how personal information is handled by certain entities, such as companies and government agencies.

    Schedule 1 to the Privacy Act lists the 13 Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). The principles cover the collection, use, disclosure, storage and management of personal information.

    Australian Government Agencies Privacy Code

    The Australian Government Agencies Privacy CodeExternal Link (effective from 1 July 2018) embeds privacy in all government agency processes and procedures. It ensures that privacy compliance is a priority in the design of our systems, practices and culture.

    We train our staff to keep your information safe, and all our systems and offices are protected and secure.

    Privacy through data matching

    We collect information about you in our role as administrators of the tax and super system.

    We may get this information through data-matching programs when you lodge returns or from other parties, such as other government agencies.

    The Privacy Commissioner's Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government AdministrationExternal Link ensure we prepare and publish a data-matching protocol for each of our programs obtaining information on 5,000 individuals or more.

    Your right to make a privacy complaint

    We accept complaints or concerns about your privacy through a number of channels.

    For more information on making a complaint, visit Complaints, compliments and suggestions.

    See also:

    Last modified: 26 Oct 2018QC 57207