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Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees submission

[Redacted for publication]
[received as email 14 September 2011]

Dear Commissioner,

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) is responding to the announcement from the Information Commissioner (OAIC) that it is reviewing the Tax File Number Guidelines, and the associated consultation on whether or not the draft information sheet effectively achieves these aims and how it could be improved.

AIST submits that this review has consequences both for use of TFNs by super funds (as does the recent TFN legislation) & for super funds’ privacy policies.  Some of these consequences were flagged in AIST's paper "The Silver Bullet: Using TFNs as the primary superannuation account identifier" released in January.  A copy of this discussion paper is attached.

About AIST

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) is an independent, not-for-profit professional body whose mission is to protect the interests of Australia’s $450 billion not-for-profit superannuation sector. AIST’s members are the trustee directors and staff of industry, corporate and public-sector superannuation funds, who manage the superannuation accounts of two-thirds of the Australian workforce.

Response to Stimulus questions for stakeholder feedback

1.      Is this information sheet helpful, easy to read, accessible to the general public, and does it provide adequate assistance to you in interpreting the TFN Guidelines?

Yes, the content is better and more clearly expressed than the current Commissioner’s notes, and the division of the FAQ to answer the concerns of three different audiences is useful.

2.      Is this information sheet a useful and relevant substitute for guidance material currently found in the Commissioner's Notes and the Compliance Notes?

Yes, the format is better than the current Commissioner’s notes.

3.      Are there any forms, brochures or other external material of relevance to the handling of TFNs that you believe should be referenced in the information sheet?

Yes, reference should be made to the Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No. 2) Act 2011 and the Explanatory Memorandum, which received royal assent on 27 June 2011, and which allow (inter alia) TFNs to be used for additional superannuation purposes.

4.      Is there any information that should be amended?

The answer to the first question for individuals “What is a Tax File Number?” should be expanded to identify that TFNs can be used to “help manage your superannuation.”  Since 1 July 2011, TFNs are able to be used for additional superannuation purposes.  They can be used to locate individuals’ superannuation benefits in a superannuation fund, and to facilitate the consolidation of superannuation accounts.

Also in the answer to this question, it is stated that lost, stolen or unauthorised access to TFN information should be reported to the ATO.  However, in answer to the later question about complaining when TFN information is not handled properly, it is noted that complaints can be made to the Australian Information Commissioner.

The difference is perhaps between “unauthorised access” and unauthorised use, but this is not clear, and hence who this should be reported to is not clear.  Further, if a matter is reported to either the ATO or the AIC, it is not clear what steps they will take, what powers they have, and what redress and response a complainant can expect.  This should be addressed in the FAQs.

5.      Are there any other ways in which the information sheet could be enhanced?

As TFNs can now be used to locate individuals’ superannuation benefits in a superannuation fund, and to facilitate the consolidation of superannuation accounts, there should be a question and answer about this.  The new use of TFNs within superannuation includes regulated data-matching by private sector entities, and so should be differentiated by the unregulated data-matching that is covered in the FAQs. 

Please note that while the legislation has been enacted, further regulations are expected.  This may require further review of the FAQs.

If you have any further questions regarding this submission, please contact me, David Haynes , Project Director on 0429 029 230 or

Kind Regards

David Haynes


David Haynes

Project Director
Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees
Ground Floor, 215 Spring Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel [redacted for publication]
Fax [redacted for publication]
Mob [redacted for publication]
Email:  [redacted for publication]