• Foreign investment review board data matching program protocol

    1 Data matching guidelines

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is committed to voluntarily complying with the Guidelines on data matching in Australian government administration (2014) (guidelines) published by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

    The Foreign Investment Review Board data matching program protocol is prepared and published in accordance with these guidelines.

    2 Overview

    Foreign investors that propose to acquire residential or agricultural land in Australia must make an application to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before proceeding with the acquisition of the real property.

    There are inherent taxation risks within this population ranging across issues such as residency for taxation purposes, registrations, rental income, capital gains tax and goods and services tax.

    The ATO proposes to obtain details of these applications for the period 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2016 to assess the overall risks to revenue, and to take compliance action where tangible risks are detected.

    3 Purpose & objectives

    Purpose

    The purpose of this data matching program is to ensure that foreign investors in Australian residential and agricultural land are meeting their taxation obligations. These tax obligations include registration, lodgment, reporting and payment responsibilities.

    Objectives

    Objectives of the Foreign Investment Review Board data matching program:

    • Obtain intelligence and increase our understanding of risks associated with foreign investors acquiring residential and agricultural land in Australia
    • Address risks through compliance activity where evidence of non-compliance is detected with income tax, capital gains tax, rental income and goods and services tax
    • Develop educational strategies to ensure compliance with taxation obligations in the future
    • Ensure compliance with registration, lodgment, correct reporting and payment of taxation and superannuation obligations.

    The ATO is seeking to obtain external data to cross-reference with its own internal and other third party data to identify relevant cases for administrative action, including compliance and educational strategies.

    4 Agencies & entities involved

    Matching & primary user agency

    The ATO is the matching agency and will generally be the sole user of the data. In very limited and specific circumstances as contained in Division 355 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953, the ATO may provide individual records to other agencies, including state and territory revenue authorities and law enforcement agencies.

    The data matching program will be conducted using the ATO’s secure computer systems and in accordance with approved policies and procedures.

    Source entities

    Data will be obtained from the Foreign Investment Review Board, administered within the Treasury portfolio.

    In accordance with guideline 5.9 the ATO has also advised the source agency to take reasonable steps to notify the general public of their participation in this data matching program. To assist with this, the ATO has:

    • Provided written materials the data provider can provide to its clients advising of their participation in this program
    • Advised the data provider to update their privacy policies to note that personal information is disclosed to the ATO for data matching purposes.

    5 Data issues

    Data elements

    The ATO will obtain the following data items from the source agency for the period 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2016:

    Individuals

    • Full name of the applicants
    • Address and country of usual residency
    • Address for service of notices within Australia
    • Telephone numbers
    • Email address
    • Name, address and telephone number of nominated agent within Australia (if any)
    • Date of birth
    • Nationality
    • Passport number
    • Passport expiry date
    • Name on passport (if different from above)
    • Details of any land already owned by the individual purchaser
    • Details of any other applications submitted for consideration

    Companies

    • Legal name
    • Place of incorporation
    • Address of head office
    • Address of registered office in Australia
    • Address for service of notices within Australia
    • Telephone number
    • Particulars of corporation’s agent (or principal officer) in Australia (if any)
    • Shareholders names
    • Nationality of shareholders
    • Percentage shareholding
    • Details of ultimate shareholding if different from immediate shareholdings

    Trusts

    • Name of trust
    • Name of trustee
    • Address of the trust
    • Address for service of notices within Australia
    • Telephone number
    • Particulars of Australian Agent (if any)
    • Beneficiaries names
    • Nationality of beneficiaries
    • Percentage of beneficial ownership
    • If trustee is an individual:
      • Name
      • Date of birth
      • Nationality
      • Passport number
      • Passport expiry date
      • Name on passport (if different from above)
      • Address
      • Telephone number
      • Email address
       

    Real property details

    • Postal address of the land
    • Land area
    • Title references (lot, section, plan)
    • Land holding type (freehold, leasehold, licence to occupy)
    • Term of lease or licence (including options to extend lease/licence)

    Purchase of shares in an Australian company that owns urban land

    • Name of company
    • Address of company
    • Telephone number
    • State or territory where incorporated
    • Details of land owned by the company
    • Particulars of shares to be purchased

    Arrangement to share in profits or income of Australian land

    • Particulars of proposed arrangement
    • Title references (lot, section, plan)

    Purchase of shares in an Australian land corporation

    • Name of corporation
    • State or territory where incorporated
    • Address of registered office in Australia
    • Telephone number
    • Details of land owned by corporation
    • Particulars of shares to be purchased

    Acquisition of units in an Australian urban land trust

    • Name of trust
    • Name of trustee
    • Address of trustee
    • Telephone number
    • Details of land held in trust
    • Details of units to be purchased

    Number of records

    The FIRB receives approximately 25,000 to 30,000 applications by foreign investors seeking to acquire residential or agricultural land in Australia each year. Most of these applications are made by individuals.

    Data quality

    Applications to FIRB are received electronically through a web-based portal, and therefore all data is captured electronically. Preliminary discussions with FIRB indicate the data is readily able to be extracted. Based on a pilot program that has been conducted we have a high degree of confidence in the quality of the data.

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

    Data integrity

    The ATO has a mature identity matching engine known as Client Identification Compliance system (CIDC). This ensures a level confidence of the integrity of data being matched as the system utilises more than one identifier in the matching process. 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.

    It is anticipated that some data will be matched at lower confidence levels where not all fields are matched or data is unavailable.

    With the population being foreign nationals there may be a higher than usual lower confidence or unmatched rate than we would expect in third party data relating to people living and operating in Australia and this may require additional manual checks to confirm the identities and tax residency status of this group.

    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 security

    ATO staff are subject to the strict secrecy and privacy provisions contained in Division 355 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 which provide for fines and terms of imprisonment in cases of contravention of these provisions.

    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.

    The ATO will utilise its secure internet-based data transfer facility to obtain the data from source agency.

    6 Discrepancy matching

    Matching process

    The identity matching process is described above under ‘Data Integrity’ and is the first step in the matching process.

    Records with a sufficient confidence level in the identity match will be loaded onto another of the ATO’s secure computer systems where data analysts will use various techniques to identity potentially high risk discrepancy matches for actioning within compliance areas. Cases selected for administrative action will be loaded to our case management system for allocation to compliance staff.

    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.

    Quality assurance

    Quality assurance processes are integrated into ATO 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 ATO internal central 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 OAIC of our intention to undertake the data matching program and request permission to depart from the Data Matching Guidelines where relevant
    • 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 in compliance activities.

    These processes ensure data is collected and used in accordance with the ATO’s data management policies and principles, and complies with OAIC’s data matching guidelines.

    7 Pilot program

    A weighted sample of data of 950 records has previously been obtained from the Foreign Investment Review Board, representing a random sample of 40% on the entire population in the top 10% by property value.

    Based on analysis of this data a number of compliance risks were identified, including:

    • Residency for income tax purpose
    • Registration for pay as you go withholding, income tax and goods and services tax
    • Foreign investors becoming residents for taxation purposes, but failing to declare foreign source income
    • Capital gains tax issues, with either the vendor not declaring a capital gain, or the foreign investor subsequently disposing of the property
    • Failure to declare rental income when the property is made available for leasing
    • Goods and services tax related issues where the property is developed or extensively renovated
    • Outstanding payment obligations.

    The pilot program identified sufficient high risk cases warranting further action. Cases identified are expected to result in departure prohibition orders and the issuing of default or special assessments under sections 167 and 168 under Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

    8 Action resulting from the program

    The data will be cross-referenced with data obtained from Australian State and Territory revenue and land title offices, residential tenancy authorities and AUSTRAC to determine if the acquisition proceeded. Checks will then be made to see if the property has been subsequently disposed of, developed, made available for rent or treated in some other way that may have taxation implications. The data may also be cross-referenced with visa data we obtain from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

    The use of the data and action arising from its use are not limited to the taxation related aspects of the property alone, and cover the full range of taxation obligations the foreign investor may have in Australia.

    Cases identified for compliance or educational activities will be directed to the appropriate area within the ATO for action.

    Before any administrative action is taken, taxpayers will be provided with the opportunity to verify the accuracy of the information obtained by the ATO. 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 the ATO.

    9 Time limits applying to the program

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

    The collection of data under this program protocol is expected to occur in May 2015 (for historical data) and then periodically throughout 2015-16 for prospective data.

    The ATO is seeking to retain the data for three years from the receipt of the final verified dataset on the basis that its retention is required for the protection of public revenue. Current guidelines allow for data to be retained for twelve months. Destroying the data in the timeframes contained in the guidelines would hinder the ATO’s ability to protect public revenue because

    • Taxpayers can retain real property for extended periods before a taxation obligation manifests itself, such as capital gains tax
    • More recent acquirers of real property may not have yet registered for the taxation obligations or required to lodge a return
    • We may have to work across national and global jurisdictions to understand the full circumstances of some individuals before a potential compliance issue becomes evident.

    A full case setting out the basis for seeking this variation to the guidelines and its impacts on individual privacy is contained at appendix A.

    10 Public notice of the program

    The ATO will publish a public notification of this data matching program in the Commonwealth government notices gazette in the week commencing 4 May 2015. A copy of the gazette notice will be provided to the data provider and the OAIC. A copy of the proposed gazette notice is included at appendix B.

    The ATO will publish a copy of this data matching program protocol on its website once the gazette notice has been published. It can be accessed from https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Gen/Data-matching-protocols/

    The data provider has been advised they may also notify their clients of participation in this data matching program, and they are considering their options.

    11 Relationship to lawful functions

    The Commissioner of Taxation has responsibility for ensuring taxpayers meet their taxation and superannuation obligations. Compliance with these obligations is a matter the ATO takes 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 the ATO’s capacity to administer those systems.

    The ATO’s 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.

    12 Legal authority

    ATO legislation

    The data will be obtained under the ATO’s formal information gathering powers. The ATO has a range of formal information gathering powers relating to different taxes including those contained in the following legislative provisions:

    • Section 264 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
    • Section 353-10 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

    These are coercive powers that obligate the data provider to furnish the information requested. The ATO will use the information for taxation and superannuation compliance purposes.

    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 permitted by an Australian law; and
    • APP6.2(e) – the use is necessary for the ATO’s enforcement related activities

    13 Alternative methods

    The ATO has 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:

    • The ATO only receives data from taxpayers that are correctly registered and meeting their lodgment obligations
    • The ATO has 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 the ATO 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.

    It also assists the ATO in effectively promoting voluntary compliance by notifying the public of areas and activities under scrutiny.

    14 Costs & benefits

    Costs

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

    • 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.

    Appendix A

    Departure from the Guidelines

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is seeking approval for the Foreign Investment Review Board data matching program to depart from one or more of the conditions detailed in guideline 10 of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Guidelines on data matching in Australian government administration (2014) (the guidelines).

    The ATO is seeking to retain data for three years from receipt of all verified data files from the data provider. The ATO considers that a variation from the usual retention periods for this data matching program is in the public interest as:

    • People can retain real property for extended periods for a taxation obligation manifests itself, such as capital gains tax
    • More recent acquirers of real property may not have yet registered for the taxation obligations or required to lodge a return
    • We may have to work across national and global jurisdictions to understand the full circumstances of some individuals before a potential compliance issue becomes evident.
    • 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.

    The ATO has determined that this departure will not affect the privacy of an individual.

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

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

    • Table 1 – Matters considered in accordance with Guideline 10.2 in seeking this departure
    • Table 2 – Consistency with requirements of the other Guidelines issued by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

    The ATO does not require that this request be kept confidential (guideline 10.6) and has no concern if the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner place this information on its website.

    Table 1: Matters considered in seeking this departure to the guidelines

    Matter considered

    Consideration

    10.2.1 - The effect of not abiding by the specified requirements of the guidelines would have on individual privacy

    • Retaining data for a period of three years will not increase the risks to an individual’s privacy. The ATO has in place very secure processes for handling and storing data. Once acquired, all data will be stored on ATO secure computer systems where access is strictly controlled and full audit logs maintained
    • The ATO and its staff operate under stringent secrecy and privacy legislation that prohibits the improper access to or disclosure of protected information. These obligations are supported by significant penalties, including imprisonment. This substantially mitigates the risks of breaches of privacy.
     

    10.2.2 - The seriousness of the administrative or enforcement action that may flow from the data matching program

    • An extension of the retention period will not affect the seriousness of the administrative action that may flow from the match, but will assist in detecting non-compliance or taxation fraud
    • Where the ATO proposes to take administrative action where a taxpayer may have reported incorrectly, the ATO will differentiate between those that try to do the right thing and those that set out to deliberately avoid their obligations. Documented procedures, including the Taxpayers’ Charter and Compliance Model will be followed to ensure fairness and consistency.
     

    10.2.3 - The effect that not abiding by the specified requirements of the guidelines would have on the fairness of the program – including its effect on people’s ability to find out the basis for decisions that affect them and their ability to dispute those decisions

    • There will be no effect on the fairness of the program or the ability of taxpayers to find out the basis of decisions that impact them or their ability to dispute those decisions
    • Before any administrative action is undertaken, taxpayers will be given at least 28 days to verify the accuracy of the information that has been derived from this data matching program
    • Where administrative action is to be undertaken, we will adhere to the principles established in the Taxpayers’ Charter and Compliance Model to ensure an equitable and consistent approach is taken
    • If a taxpayer does not agree with an assessment, they retain the right to object to an assessment decision. They also have the legal right to appeal against those decisions through the courts and tribunals.
     

    10.2.4 - The effect that not abiding by the specified requirements of the guidelines would have on the transparency and accountability of government operations

    • There will be no adverse effects on the transparency and accountability of government operations
    • A program protocol is submitted to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the ATO will strictly adhere to the commitments in that document
    • The ATO will publish a notice with general information about the program in the Commonwealth government notices gazette before data matching commences. The ATO will also make a copy of the program protocol available on its website.
     

    10.2.5 - The effect that not abiding by the specified requirements of the guidelines would have on compliance of the proposed program with the Australian Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1988

    • There will be no effect on compliance with the Australian Privacy Principles contained in Schedule 1 to the Privacy Act 1988 due to longer retention of the data. The data is collected is solely for the stated objectives established in the data matching program protocol.
     

    10.2.6 - The effect that abiding by all of the requirements of the guidelines would have on the effectiveness of the proposed program

    • The effectiveness of the program would be reduced if the data retention period is not extended
    • There would be a significant reduction in the ability of the ATO to detect incorrect reporting and taxation fraud without understanding and monitoring trends in the data collected
    • The destruction of the data in accordance with the current Guidelines would impact the integrity of the taxation system by:
      • Limiting the ATO’s ability to identify taxpayers who may be subject to administrative action
      • Resulting in the loss of revenue
       
     

    10.2.7 - Whether complying fully with the guidelines could jeopardise or endanger the life or physical safety of information providers or could compromise the source of information provided in confidence

    • Not abiding by all the requirements of the guidelines would not influence or affect the personal safety of any individual identified as part of the program or compromise the source of the information provided in confidence.
     

    10.2.8 - The effect that abiding by all the requirements of the guidelines would have on public revenue – including tax revenue, personal benefit payments, debts to the Commonwealth and fraud against the Commonwealth

    • Not allowing the variation to the data retention period of the current program would cause the ATO to miss potential breaches of taxation laws and subsequent non-payment of tax. This would result in the Commonwealth foregoing taxation revenue
    • There are risks to the integrity of taxation system when people fail to comply with their obligations. Abiding by all of the requirements of the guidelines will reduce the effectiveness of proposed compliance activity. The ATO would miss the opportunity to educate those taxpayers trying to do the right thing, and to deter those that are non-compliant from repeating the behaviour
    • The effect of abiding by all of the requirements in the guidelines could negatively impact on both public revenue and public and government confidence in the ATO. People not complying with their taxation obligations, including those operating outside the system, set a bad example to compliant taxpayers and may encourage their non-compliance. Maintaining community and government confidence in the taxation system is critical to the on-going role of the ATO.
     

    10.2.9 - Whether abiding by all of the requirements of the guidelines would involve the release of a document that would be an exempt document under the Freedom of Information Act 1982

    • Only information relating to the taxpayer’s own affairs will be released upon receipt of a Freedom of Information request.
     

    10.2.10 - The legal authority for conducting the proposed program in a way inconsistent with the specified requirements of the guidelines

    • There is no specific legislative power authorising the conduct of this program inconsistent with the guidelines
    • The Commissioner of Taxation, or his authorised representative, has formed the opinion that this data is required to enable the ATO to effectively and efficiently carry out its legislated functions under the general powers of administration contained in:
      • Section 3A of the Taxation Administration Act 1953
      • Section 8 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
      • Section 1-7 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
       
    • The reasons for proposing to operate outside requirements of the Guidelines are detailed above.
     

    Table 2: Matters considered in seeking this variation to the guidelines

    This section outlines where the ATO is consistent with the requirements of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Guidelines on data matching in Australian government administration (2014).

    Paragraph/guideline

    Action Taken/To Be Taken

    Paragraph 6 - Status of the guidelines

    • The ATO has committed to complying with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Guidelines on data matching in Australian government administration (2014) by way of a Chief Executive Instruction.
     

    Guideline 1 - Application of the guide

    • The ATO applies the Guidelines for all data matching programs where it is anticipated the program will include records of 5,000 or more individuals.
    • The ATO recognises that programs where there are multiple data sources but with common objectives and algorithms are treated as a single data matching program.
     

    Guideline 2 - Considerations before conducting a data matching program

    • The ATO conducts a cost-benefit analysis and considers alternate methods prior to proposing to conduct a data matching program.
    • Further, the ATO has rigorous governance arrangements, processes and system controls in place to protect the privacy of individuals.
     

    Guideline 3 - Prepare a program protocol

    • Prior to conducting a data matching program, the ATO prepares a data matching program protocol, submits this to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and makes a copy publicly available on the ATO website
    • When elements of a data matching program change, the protocol is amended and a copy of the amended protocol provided to the OAIC and update the ATO website
     

    Guideline 4 - Technical standards report

    • Documentation is prepared and maintained so as to satisfy the requirements of a Technical Standards Report.
     

    Guideline 5 - Notify the public

    • The ATO publishes notification of its intention to undertake data matching program in the Commonwealth government gazette notices prior to the commencement of the program.
    • This notice includes all of the requirements outlined in the guidelines.
    • Notification of the program is also published on the ATO’s website and data providers are advised they can advertise their participation in the data matching program.
     

    Guideline 6 - Notify individuals of proposed administrative action

    • Prior to taking any administrative as a result of the data matching programs individuals and other entities are given at least 28 days to verify the accuracy of the information provided to the ATO by third parties.
     

    Guideline 7 - Destroy information that is no longer required

    • The ATO is seeking to vary from this requirement.
     

    Guideline 8 - Do not create new registers, datasets or databases

    • The ATO does not create new registers or databases using data obtained in the course of a data matching program.
     

    Guideline 9 - Data matching program evaluations

    • Programs are regularly evaluated within 3 years of the commencement of the data matching program. These evaluations are provided to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
     

    Guideline 10 - Variations to guideline requirements

    • When the ATO intends to vary from the requirements of the guidelines it seeks the approval of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and provides documentation to support the variance.
     

    Guideline 11 - Data matching with entities other than agencies

    • The ATO undertakes its own data matching programs.
    • The ATO does not outsource this function.
    • Where data is obtained from an entity other than an individual, the ATO usually does so using its formal information gathering powers. In these instances the entities are advised they are able to notify their clients of their participation in the data matching program.
     

    Guideline 12 - Data matching with exempt agencies

    • The ATO does not usually undertake data matching with agencies that are exempt from the operations of the Privacy Act 1988 under section 7 of that Act and that are subject to the operation of the guidelines (i.e. any data matching undertaken with an exempt agency would usually be for fewer than 5,000 individuals).
    • In the event a data matching activity would otherwise be subject to these guidelines except for the exemption status, the ATO would still adhere to the principles of the guidelines and prepare a program protocol, seeking to vary from the guidelines by not publicly notifying of the program and publishing the protocol. The ATO would still lodge a copy of the protocol with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
     

    Guideline 13 - Enable review by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

    • The ATO would not prevent the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner from reviewing its data matching activities and processes. These activities and processes have been reviewed by the Australian National Audit Office and Inspector-General of Taxation.
     

    Appendix B

    Gazette Notice

    Commissioner of Taxation

    NOTICE OF A DATA MATCHING PROGRAM

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will acquire details of foreign investors that apply to the Foreign Investment Review Board to purchase residential or agricultural land in Australia for the 2010-11 to 2015-16 financial years.

    The data items that will be obtained for individuals are:

    • Full name of the applicants
    • Address and country of usual residency
    • Address for service of notices within Australia
    • Telephone numbers
    • Email address
    • Name, address and telephone number of nominated agent within Australia (if any)
    • Date of birth
    • Nationality
    • Passport number
    • Passport expiry date
    • Name on passport (if different from above)
    • Details of any land already owned by the individual purchaser
    • Details of any other applications submitted for consideration
    • Postal address of the land
    • Land area
    • Title references (lot, section, plan)
    • Land holding type (freehold, leasehold, licence to occupy)
    • Term of lease or licence (including options to extend lease/licence)
    • Details of proposals to:
      • Purchase of shares in an Australian company that owns urban land
      • Enter in arrangements to share in profits or income of Australian land
      • Purchase of shares in an Australian land corporation
      • Acquisition of units in an Australian urban land trust
       

    It is estimated that records for 25,000 - 30,000 entities will be obtained for each financial year, with most being lodged by individuals.

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

    The purpose of this data matching program is to ensure that foreign investors in Australian residential and agricultural land are meeting their taxation obligations. These obligations include registration, lodgment, reporting and payment responsibilities. Its objectives are to:

    • Obtain intelligence and increase our understanding of risks associated with foreign nationals acquiring residential and agricultural land in Australia
    • Address risks through compliance activity where evidence of non-compliance is detected with income tax, capital gains tax, rental income and goods and services tax
    • Develop educational strategies to ensure compliance with taxation obligations in the future
    • Ensure compliance with registration, lodgment, correct reporting and payment of taxation and superannuation 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:

    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 https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Access,-accountability-and-reporting/Your-privacy/

      Last modified: 04 May 2015QC 45014