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  • How we use data and analytics

    We use data to provide services that make it easy for taxpayers to comply and hard not to, through 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.

    To provide a faster, more complete service, we are working with data providers to:

    • extend our data sources
    • expand the range of information we make available via pre-fill
    • obtain data more quickly at the end of the income year.

    Our use of data is 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 strong data culture and our commitment is demonstrated 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.

    On this page:

    See also:

    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
    • your current circumstances
    • your previous history with us.

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

    Firm but fair

    Data helps us get things right from the start – meaning we can address issues quickly, before they escalate. It also helps us to find taxpayers 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 2018, we have pre-filled over 80 million pieces of data with the use of our data and analytics technology.

    Helping you make better choices

    We use real-time analytics to prompt taxpayers as they complete their tax return in myTax.

    'Nearest neighbour' methods are used to compare amounts being entered into myTax, with those of other people in similar circumstances. If a claim is significantly different to what we expect, a message appears on the taxpayers' screen, prompting them to check their figures.

    During tax time in 2018, nearly 240,000 taxpayers (around 6.6% of myTax users), received a pop-up message through myTax suggesting they review a specific label. 

    The messaging resulted in taxpayers adjusting the associated labels by around $113 million.

    Minimising the burden

    In 2018 we expanded the refund of franking credits population who received automated assessments.

    We automated 59,000 refunds to individuals (a 17% increase on the prior year), eliminating their need to lodge a request for a refund, and saving them time and money.

    Refunds in excess of $23 million were delivered.

    Automated intelligence

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

    Transcripts are used for quality assurance and 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.

    When we notice an increase in calls on a particular topic we can ensure our staff have the latest information to provide to callers.

    We can also measure caller sentiment 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.

    Machine learning means that a process which could take months, if done manually, can be done in days, saving time and resources.

    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

    Protection of your personal details and data is integral to the way we store, use and share our data. Our priority is to protect client data and keep pace with technology to protect it.

    Digital service provider (DSP) Operational Framework

    To ensure the integrity and security of client data we have established mandatory requirements that digital service providers (DSPs) must meet in order to access our services. These requirements include the use of mandatory:

    • data encryption to protect the confidentiality and integrity of client data
    • multi-factor authentication for users that can access tax or superannuation related information of other entities or individuals
    • onshore data hosting by default, to limit the risk of non-authorised access to client data.

    We are committed to protecting your data and will restrict or de-list DSPs that fail to conform with our DSP Operational FrameworkExternal Link.

    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.

    We regularly assess our systems against industry and government standards so they remain effective.

    Protecting your privacy

    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 for
    • 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 activities 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 of 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 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: 29 Mar 2019QC 57207