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  • Submission to the Privacy Commissioner

    Varying from the data destruction requirements

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is seeking approval for the rental bond data matching program for the period 20 September 1985 to 30 June 2020 to vary from one or more of the conditions detailed in Guideline 7 of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration 2014 (Guidelines).

    We are seeking to retain data for five years from when all data files are verified for each relevant financial year. We consider variation from the normal data destruction rules in this circumstance is in the public interest (10.1(c) of the Guidelines) as:

    • There are income tax reporting obligations for taxpayers owning property producing income but also, when the property is subsequently sold it impacts CGT assessment.
    • Income tax return lodgment time periods can extend to 24 months after the end of the applicable financial year when part of tax agent lodgment programs.
    • Subsequent compliance issues may be identified within the period of review allowed by the law. The data is also used in multiple risk models, including models that establish retrospective profiles over a number of years. Destroying the data in accordance with the Guidelines will reduce the effectiveness of these models.
    • Property is often held for many years before being transferred or sold which then triggers a CGT event. To identify rental impacts for CGT liability assessment real property rental bond history dating back to 20 September 1985 (the introduction of the CGT regime) is required.
    • destruction of the data would inhibit the ATO’s ability to identify taxpayers who may be subject to administrative action and therefore result in loss of public revenue.

    Whilst increased data retention periods may increase privacy risk, we have implemented a range of safeguards to appropriately manage and minimise any increased risk.

    This program will be subject to an evaluation within three years which is consistent with the requirements of Guideline 9.

    Additional information justifying this variation is included in the tables below:

    • Table 1 – matters considered in accordance with Guideline 10.2 in seeking this variation
    • Table 2 – consistency with requirements of the other guidelines issued by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
      Last modified: 10 Aug 2018QC 56446