• Commonwealth electoral roll details - data matching program protocol

    At a glance

    The Australian Electoral Commissioner (AEC) is permitted to provide us with specified information provided by individuals in the course of making an application to be included on the electoral roll, or when they update their enrolment information.

    We are permitted to use this information for the purposes of:

    • identifying or locating taxpayers
    • preventing, detecting or investigating taxation fraud
    • administering Australia's Foreign Investment Framework.

    The AEC provides a complete and up to date extract of this information on a quarterly basis.

    Program objectives

    The objectives of this data matching program are to:

    • identify taxpayers that are not registered with us when they are required to be
    • locate taxpayers that may have outstanding taxation and superannuation lodgment, correct reporting or payment obligations
    • identify potential instances of taxation or superannuation fraud
    • assist with the administration of the Australia's Foreign Investment Framework.

    How the data will be used

    The data will assist our staff:

    • identify those people that may be operating outside of the taxation and superannuation systems
    • trace taxpayers with outstanding obligations where their contact details are not up to date with us
    • deal with potential cases of taxation and superannuation fraud
    • administer foreign investment requirements in residential and agricultural land, where a person acquires Australian property and does not appear on the electoral role.

    See also:

    Data related matters

    Data matching and user agency

    Commonwealth electoral laws and associated regulations require or permit the AEC to make information available to nominated government agencies, political parties and members of parliament.

    In this data matching program we are the matching agency and sole user of this data set. The electoral laws and regulations prohibit us from sharing this data with anyone else.

    Data providers

    Data will be obtained from the Australian Electoral Commission.

    Data elements

    We will obtain the following information from the AEC on an ongoing basis:

    • name of the registered voter
    • residential address of the registered voter
    • sex of the registered voter
    • date of birth of the registered voter
    • occupation of the registered voter.

    If the electoral laws or regulations are amended to permit the AEC to provide us with additional information we will update this list and publish a new gazette notice.

    Number of records

    Each quarter we obtain approximately 15 million records, all relating to individuals.

    Data quality

    Based on the acquisition and use of this data previously, we know the data is of high quality.

    Data will be transformed into a standardised format and validated to ensure that it contains the required data elements prior to loading to our computer systems.

    See also:

    Data retention

    The information we obtain from the AEC is refreshed in its entirety every three months. This ensures we have the most up to date information available from the AEC.

    Public notification of the program

    We will notify the public of our intention to undertake this program by:

    • publishing a notice in the Australian government notices gazette in the week commencing 11 April 2016 - view the content of the gazette notice
    • publishing this data matching program protocol on our website at www.ato.gov.au/dmprotocols
    • advising the data providers they
      • can notify their clients of their participation in this program and provided written materials to assist with this
      • should update their privacy policies to note that personal information is disclosed to us for data matching purposes.
       

    Gazette notice content

    Commissioner of Taxation - Notice of a data matching program

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will acquire details of registered voters on the Commonwealth electoral view from the Australian Electoral Commissioner. This data will be collected on an ongoing basis and is refreshed every three months.

    The data items that will be obtained are personal details of:

    • name of the registered voter
    • residential address of the registered voter
    • sex of the registered voter
    • date of birth of the registered voter
    • occupation of the registered voter.

    It is estimated that records for 15 million individuals will be obtained each quarter.

    These records will be electronically matched with ATO data holdings to identify non-compliance with registration, lodgment, reporting and payment obligations under taxation laws.

    The objectives of this data matching program are to:

    • identify taxpayers that are not registered with us when they are required to be
    • locate taxpayers that may have outstanding taxation and superannuation lodgment, correct reporting or payment obligations
    • identify potential instances of taxation or superannuation fraud
    • assist with the administration of Australia's Foreign Investment Framework.

    A document describing this program has been prepared in consultation with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. A copy of this document is available at www.ato.gov.au/dmprotocols

    The ATO complies with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Guidelines on data matching in Australian government administration (2014) which includes standards for data matching to protect the privacy of individuals. A full copy of the ATO’s privacy policy can be accessed at www.ato.gov.au/privacy

    Legal matters

    Find out about:

    More information

    What we will do before we amend a return or update our records

    Where we detect a discrepancy that requires verification we will contact the taxpayer usually by phone, letter or email.

    Before any administrative action is taken, taxpayers will be provided with the opportunity to verify the accuracy of the information obtained by us. Taxpayers will be given at least 28 days to respond before administrative action is taken.

    For example, where discrepancy matching identifies that a taxpayer is not reporting all of their income, but in fact they are reporting the income under another entity, the taxpayer will be given the opportunity to clarify the situation.

    The data may also be used to ensure that taxpayers are complying with their other taxation and superannuation obligations, including registration requirements, lodgment obligations and payment responsibilities.

    In cases where taxpayers fail to comply with these obligations, after being reminded of them, escalation for prosecution action may be instigated in appropriate circumstances.

    Where a taxpayer has correctly met its obligations, the use of the data will reduce the likelihood of contact from us.

    How we undertake data matching

    We use sophisticated identity matching techniques to ensure we identify the correct taxpayer when we obtain data from third parties. This technique uses multiple details to obtain an identity match. For example, where a name, address and date of birth are available all items are used in the identity matching process. Very high confidence matches will occur where all fields are matched.

    Additional manual processes may be undertaken where high confidence identity matches do not occur, or a decision taken to destroy the data with no further action.

    Where administrative action is proposed, additional checks will take place to ensure the correct taxpayer has been identified. The taxpayers will be provided with the opportunity to verify the accuracy of the information before any administrative action is taken.

    Data analysts use various models and techniques to detect potential discrepancies, such as under-reported income or over-reported deductions. Higher risk discrepancy matches will be loaded to our case management system and allocated to compliance staff for actioning.

    Lower risk discrepancy matches will be further analysed and a decision made to take some form of compliance or educational activity, or to destroy the data. In accordance with Guideline 7, where a decision is made not to take further action, the information that has been collected will be destroyed within 90 days of the decision not to take further action.

    How we protect your personal information

    Our staff are subject to the strict confidentiality and privacy provisions contained in Division 355 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 and include terms of imprisonment in cases of serious contravention of these provisions.

    There are also restrictions in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 which prohibit us from on-disclosing the information obtained in the course of this data matching program to any other person or agency.

    All ATO computer systems are strictly controlled, with features including:

    • system access controls and security groupings
    • login identification codes and password protection
    • full audit trails of data files and system accesses.

    We will utilise our secure internet-based data transfer facility to obtain the data from source agencies.

    Our quality assurance framework

    Quality assurance processes are integrated into our processes and computer systems and are applied throughout the data matching cycle.

    These assurance processes include:

    • registering the intention to undertake a data matching program on an internal register
    • obtaining approval from the data matching gatekeeper and relevant Senior Executive Service (SES) officers prior to any activity being undertaken
    • conducting program pilots or obtaining sample data to ensure the data matching program will achieve its objectives prior to full data sets being obtained
    • notifying the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner of our intention to undertake the data matching program and request permission to vary from the data matching guidelines (where applicable)
    • maintaining access management logs recording details of who has access to the data, why access is required and how it will be used
    • processes embedded into compliance activities, such as
      • review of risk assessments, taxpayer profiles and case plans by senior officers prior to client contact
      • ongoing reviews of cases by subject matter technical experts at key points during the life cycle of a case
      • regular independent panel reviews of samples of case work to provide assurance of the accuracy and consistency of case work.
       

    These processes ensure data is collected and used in accordance with our data management policies and principles, and complies with the Information Commissioner's data matching guidelines.

    Why we undertake data matching

    We have considered a range of alternatives to this data matching program to ensure entities are complying with their taxation and superannuation obligations. Relying only on data already held by the ATO is of limited value for the following reasons:

    • we only receive data from taxpayers that are correctly registered and meeting their lodgment obligations
    • we have no other data to cross-reference to ensure taxpayers are reporting their obligations correctly other than by directly contacting every taxpayer.

    This data matching program will allow us to identify taxpayers who are not fully complying with their obligations, as well as those that may be operating outside the taxation and superannuation systems. It will also reduce the likelihood of the ATO unnecessarily contacting taxpayers who appear to be complying with their taxation obligations.

    Data matching is an effective method of examining records of thousands of taxpayers to ensure compliance with lodgment and reporting obligations that would otherwise be a resource intensive exercise.

    Data matching also assists us in effectively promoting voluntary compliance by notifying the public of areas and activities under scrutiny.

    Costs and benefits of data matching

    Costs

    There are some incidental costs to us in the conduct of this data matching program, but these will be more than offset by the total revenue protected. These costs include:

    • data analyst resources to identify potential instances of non-compliance
    • compliance resources to manage casework and educational activities
    • governance resources to ensure that the Guidelines and Privacy Act are complied with, and quality assurance work to ensure the rigour of the work undertaken by analysts and compliance staff
    • storage of the data.

    Benefits

    Benefits from conducting this data matching programs include:

    • maintaining community confidence in both the taxation and superannuation systems by creating a level playing field, as well as maintaining community confidence in the ATO’s capacity to fairly administer those systems
    • integrity of the taxation and superannuation systems – there are inherent risks in taxpayers not complying with their obligations, including those that deliberately abuse these systems – this program will assist the ATO in detecting, dealing with and deterring those that are not meeting their obligations
    • enabling enforcement activity and recovery of taxation revenue – without undertaking this data matching program and subsequent compliance activity there are no assurances that a wider risk to revenue does not exist.

    Making a privacy complaint

    If a taxpayer is not satisfied with how we have collected, held, used or disclosed its personal information, they can make a formal complaint by:

    • using the online complaints form at www.ato.gov.au/complaints
    • phoning our complaints line on 1800 199 010
    • phoning the National Relay Service on 13 36 77 (if you have a hearing, speech or communication impairment)
    • sending us a free fax on 1800 060 063
    • writing to us at
      ATO Complaints
      PO Box 1271
      ALBURY NSW 2640

    If a taxpayer is not satisfied with the outcome of the privacy complaint, they can contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

    See also:

    • http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/making-a-privacy-complaint

    Our lawful role

    The Commissioner of Taxation has responsibility for ensuring taxpayers meet their taxation and superannuation obligations. Compliance with these obligations is a matter we take seriously and failure to address non-compliant behaviour has the potential to undermine community confidence in the integrity of the taxation and superannuation systems and our capacity to administer those systems.

    Our data matching program is one of the strategies used to identity and deal with non-compliant behaviour. Data matching programs also provide a degree of assurance that taxpayers are meeting their obligations.

    Our legal authority to undertake a data matching program

    Electoral laws and regulations

    Item 4 in the table in sub-section 90B(4) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 permits the AEC to provide specified information to other government agencies prescribed in the regulations.

    We are an agency prescribed at item 10 in the table in Schedule 1 to the Electoral and Referendum Regulation 2016 and the purposes described in this protocol are specified in this regulation.

    Privacy Act

    Data will only be used within the limits prescribed by Australian Privacy Principle 6 (APP6) contained in Schedule 1 of the Privacy Act 1988 and in particular:

    • APP6.2(b) – the use of the information is required or authorised by an Australian law
    • APP6.2(e) – the ATO reasonably believes that the use of the information is reasonably necessary for our enforcement related activities.
      Last modified: 25 Oct 2016QC 48680