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  • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), Vocational Education and Training Student Loans (VSL) and Trade Support Loans (TSL) 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years data matching program protocol

    At a glance

    This protocol has been prepared to meet the Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration 2014 (Guidelines) published by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

    The Australian Government provides financial assistance in the form of income contingent loans through the:

    • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)
    • Vocational Education and Training Student Loan program (VSL)
    • Trade Support Loans (TSL).

    These loans are established under the:

    • Higher Education Support Act 2003 with HELP commencing in January 1989
    • Vocational Education and Training Student Loans Act 2016 (VSL Act) with VSL commencing in January 2017
    • Trade Support Loans Act 2014 with TSL commencing in July 2014.

    In 2018 the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and Vocational Education and Training Student Loans Act 2016 were amended to separate VSL debts from other forms of Higher Education Loan Program debts and establish VSL as a separate income contingent loan, with a commencement date of 1 July 2019.

    The laws are administered by the Department of Education and Training (Education), together with the Commissioner of Taxation who administers the collection of the loans on behalf of the Commonwealth.

    Loan recipients do not commence repayment of their loans until they are earning an income above the minimum repayment threshold, which for the 2018-19 financial year was $51,957. The repayment thresholds and rates for the compulsory repayment can be found at ato.gov.au/thresholdsandrates Repayments are made to the ATO through the income tax system.

    Under the Student Loan (Overseas Debtors Repayment Levy) Act 2015 participants with new and existing HELP, VSL or TSL debts must:

    • have updated their contact details and submitted an overseas travel notification using ATO online services via their myGov account if planning to or already reside overseas for 183 days or more in any 12 months
    • lodge their worldwide income (Australian income and their non-resident foreign sourced income) or a non-lodgment advice.

    For the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years the HELP, VSL and TSL data matching program will obtain Department of Home Affairs (DHA) overseas movement data for participants with existing HELP, VSL or TSL debts dating back to the commencement of that debt.

    Correct identification of new and existing HELP, VSL and TSL debtors who leave Australia or have already departed, is a major component for successful targeting of communications, provision of self-help information and compliance activity to support the law change.

    We have a responsibility to protect public revenue and to maintain community confidence in the integrity of the tax system. Undertaking the HELP, VSL and TSL data matching program will assist us taking steps to protect and maintatin public revenue. We have been undertaking this data matching program for three years and intend to continue conducting this data matching program for a futher three years.

    Program objectives

    The objectives of this data matching program are to:

    • ensure participants with a HELP, VSL or TSL debt impacted by the law changes are receiving guidance materials, self-help information and support
    • ensure participants with a HELP, VSL or TSL debt impacted by the law changes are aware of their registration, lodgment and payment obligations
    • use insight gained to further develop educational strategies intended to promote voluntary compliance and strengthen community confidence in the integrity of the tax system
    • provide possible opportunities to satisfy the ATO’s wider compliance activities of registration, lodgement, correct reporting and payment of taxation and superannuation obligations.

    How the data will be used

    Under this data matching program DHA will provide overseas movement data for the HELP, VSL and TSL debtor population provided by the ATO.

    The data will be used by the ATO to identify those HELP, VSL or TSL debtors that have left Australia and remain overseas. It is these HELP, VSL or TSL debtors that are subject to the obligations of registration, lodgment and/or repayment of their HELP, VSL or TSL debt.

    The primary use of the data is to support voluntary compliance through successful targeting of communications and provision of self-help information.

    By identifing HELP, VSL and TSL debtors to whom the HELP, VSL and TSL overseas obligations apply we will assess their status against ATO records and other data we hold to identify debtors that may not be meeting their registration, lodgment and/or payment obligations.

    Where a taxpayer is correctly meeting their obligations, the use of the data will reduce the likelihood of contact from us.

    Find out about:

    Previous programs

    We have conducted this data matching program since 2017. The previous program covering the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial year financial years has broadly achieved its stated goals, including

    • Correct identification of new and existing HELP and TSL debtors who leave Australia or have already departed
    • successful targeting of communications, provision of self-help information and compliance activity to support the law change.

    The reasons for conducting the HELP and TSL data matching program remain current.

      Last modified: 05 Jul 2019QC 59557