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Data related matters

Last updated 9 August 2018

Data matching and user agency

We are the matching agency and in most cases the sole user of the data obtained in the course of this data matching program. The data matching program will be conducted on our secure systems in accordance with approved policies and procedures.

In very limited and specific circumstances we may be permitted by law to disclose individual records to other government agencies.

Learn more about our on-disclosure provisions.

Data providers

The source entities for this data matching program include sharing economy – accommodation platforms from whom payments to individuals who rent out short term accommodation are made and/or the financial institutions used by sharing economy platform providers through which payments are directed to platform users.

A principles based approach has been adopted to ensure that inclusion as a data provider is fair and transparent. Inclusion of a sharing economy platform as a data provider in the program is based on the following principles:

  • The data owner or its subsidiary operates a business in Australia that is governed by Australian law.
  • The data owner provides a platform for short term rental accommodation services.
  • The data owner provided these facilities in the year(s) in focus.
  • Where the client base of a data owner does not present an omitted income risk or the administrative or financial cost of collecting the data exceeds the benefit the data may provide, the data owner may be excluded from the program.

The data providers for this program will be reviewed periodically against the eligibility criteria and, if required, will be included in the data matching program.

Data elements

The ATO will negotiate with the selected data providers individually to obtain data held within their systems. The collected data may contain all or a selection of the fields listed for the 2016-17 to 2019-20 financial years:

From Online Platforms

  • Listing owner and property details  
    • Name
    • Contact details (postal address and telephone number(s))
    • Date of birth
    • Rental property address
    • Listing ID
    • Owner/listing manager
    • Room or whole house listing
     
  • Financial transactions per listing  
    • Banking details
    • Payment method
    • Gross rental income
    • Fees/commissions withheld
    • Nights booked
     
  • Property activities  
    • Listing date
    • Enquiry rates and responses
    • Conversion rate (bookings/enquiries)
    • Cancellations initiated by guests and host
    • Host/owner block outs dates
    • Price per night
    • Minimum night booking
    • Type of booking allowed: instant or contact
    • Changes to the listing details, price change, condition change etc.
     
  • From Financial Institutions that the platform providers bank with:  
    • Payee account name
    • Payee BSB
    • Payee account number
    • Date of payment to the payee
    • Amount of payment to the payee
     

Number of records

The number of individuals affected by this data collection is expected to exceed 190,000 over the time period of the program.

Data quality

The ATO expects the data acquired will be of good quality as per the sample data collected under notice to the data providers.

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

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Data retention

The collection of data under this program protocol is expected to occur periodically throughout the period July 2018 to July 2020.

The ATO is seeking to have the Privacy Commissioner exercise their discretion and allow the ATO to vary from the data destruction requirements contained in the Guidelines.

The ATO is seeking to retain each financial year’s data for five years from the receipt of the last instalment of data on the basis that its retention is required for the protection of public revenue. Data is managed and destroyed in accordance with the requirements of the Guidelines and the National Archives of Australia's General Disposal Authority 24 - Records relating to Data Matching Exercises. Destroying the data earlier than the requested timeframe would hinder the ATO’s ability to protect public revenue because:

  • Individuals identified as not meeting their taxation obligations, including being partly or wholly outside the taxation system, may have been operating that way for multiple years. A retention period of five years will enable the ATO to cross reference taxpayer records retrospectively.
  • The nature of the discrepancy matching that occurs under this program will be, in some instance, iterative. This includes the data being used to generate lodgment reviews with subsequent lodgments then being compared to the transactional data for accuracy. This process can occur over multiple years.
  • It would hinder the ATO’s ability to conduct long term trend analysis and risk profiling of the sharing economy - accommodation market.

See the Submission to the Information Commissioner setting out the basis for seeking the variation to the data destruction guidelines and its impacts on individual privacy.

Public notification of the program

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

  • publishing a notice in the Commonwealth government notices gazette in the week commencing 6 August 2018 - view the content of the gazette notice
  • publishing this data matching program protocol on the ATO website at ato.gov.au/dmprotocols
  • advising data providers they:  
    • can notify their users - accommodation providers of their participation in this program
    • should update their privacy policies to note that personal information is disclosed to the ATO for data matching purposes.
     

Gazette notice content

Commissioner of Taxation

Notice of a data matching program

Online accommodation platforms enable members of the public to book and pay for accommodation services.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will collect data under notice to identify individuals that have or may be engaged in providing accommodation services through an online platform during the 2016-17 to 2019-20 financial years.

The ATO will also acquire details of all payments made by the platform/s to accommodation providers including payments made by international entities for the 2016-17 to 2019-20 financial years.

The data acquired will be electronically matched with certain sections of ATO data holdings to identify taxpayers that can be provided with tailored information to help them meet their tax obligations, or to ensure compliance with taxation law.

The data to be collected may contain all or a selection of the fields listed for the 2016-17 to 2019-20 financial years:

From Online Platforms

  • Listing owner and property details  
    • Name
    • Contact details (residential address and telephone number(s))
    • Date of birth
    • Rental property address
    • Listing ID
    • Owner/listing manager
    • Room or whole house listing
     
  • Financial transactions per listing  
    • Banking details of the owner
    • Payment method
    • Gross rental income
    • Fees/commissions charged by the provider
    • Nights booked
     
  • Property activities  
    • Listing date
    • Enquiry rates and responses
    • Conversion rate (bookings/enquiries)
    • Cancellations initiated by guests and host/owner
    • Host/Owner’s block outs dates
    • Price per night
    • Minimum night booking restriction
    • Type of booking allowed: instant or contact
    • Changes to the listing details, price change, condition change etc.
     
  • From Financial Institutions of the platform providers  
    • Payee account name
    • Payee BSB
    • Payee account number
    • Date of payment to the payee
    • Amount of payment to the payee
     

It is estimated that records relating to up to 190,000 individuals will be obtained.

The purpose of this data matching program is to ensure that taxpayers are correctly meeting their taxation obligations in relation to providing accommodation services. These obligations may include registration, lodgment, reporting and payment responsibilities.

The program objectives are to:

  • Promote voluntary compliance and increase community confidence in the integrity of the tax system.
  • Identify those individuals failing to meet their registration and/or lodgment obligations and assisting them to comply.
  • Gain insights from the data that may help to develop and implement treatment strategies to improve voluntary compliance; which may include educational or compliance activities as appropriate.
  • Obtain intelligence to increase the ATO’s understanding of the behaviours and compliance profiles of individuals providing accommodation services.
  • Ensure compliance with registration, lodgment, correct reporting and payment of taxation obligations.

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 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 ato.gov.au/privacy

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