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Australian Government - Office of the Australian Information Commissioner - Home

Classes of lawful tax file number recipients

Updated 29 February 2012

Compiled by the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority pursuant to Tax File Number Guideline 8.1

Sections 8WA and 8WB of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 protect the privacy of tax file numbers by making it an offence to wrongfully request or receive tax file numbers, or to misuse or give them to anyone but the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or another authorised user.  The maximum penalty that applies to offenders is an $11,000 fine or two years imprisonment or both.

The following is a list of the classes of entities that are lawfully able to receive tax file numbers, and an explanation of who the recipients may disclose the tax file number to.

The ATO uses tax file numbers in accordance with taxation laws for the general administration of the taxation and superannuation systems. Tax file number information is used to administer the system efficiently and effectively within the provisions of those laws.

Disclosure: To any entity to the extent required or permitted by or reasonably necessary in order to comply with, or in connection with exercising powers under, a taxation law or a law of the Commonwealth of a kind referred to in subsection 8WB(1A) of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

The Departments of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), Veterans' Affairs, and Health and Ageing have the authority to request a tax file number from recipients of assistance payments such as pensions, benefits and allowances.  The Departments also use tax file numbers in carrying out matching activities under the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990.

Disclosure: to the ATO.  Also to officers of Centrelink who are responsible for matching data under the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990.

Employers who make a payment are required to withhold an amount from the payment and then pay the amount to the Commissioner of Taxation under the pay as you go (PAYG) withholding regime as outlined in Part 2-5 of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.  Payments include salary, wages, commissions, bonuses or allowances that are paid to an individual as an employee.  Under Division 3 of Part VA of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 employers collect tax file numbers from their employees via a tax file number declaration as part of their PAYG obligations.  Employers record the tax file numbers in their pay-roll systems and use them to prepare their employees' payment summaries under the PAYG withholding system.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Employers can collect the tax file numbers of their employees under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 in connection with the operation of that Act.  The purpose of the collection is to pass the tax file number to the superannuation fund to which they contribute on the employee's behalf.

Disclosure: to the trustee of a nominated superannuation fund to which they contribute on behalf of the employee.

Employers who choose to use the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House run by Medicare Australia may need to provide tax file numbers to Medicare Australia.

Disclosure: to Medicare Australia.

Medicare Australia for the purpose of administering the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Employee share scheme providers who have obligations under Division 392 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 in respect of employee share schemes may engage a share registry or other agent to meet statutory reporting obligations on their behalf.  Employee share scheme providers may need to provide employee tax file numbers to a share registry or other agent for this purpose.

Disclosure: to a share registry or other agent of the employee share scheme provider.

Share registries and agents of employee share scheme providers who perform statutory reporting functions on behalf of employers in respect of employee share schemesunder Division 392 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 may provide employee tax file numbers to the ATO on behalf of the employee share scheme provider.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations in its capacity as an administrator of the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) authorised under Division 179 and Division 14 of Schedule 1A of the Higher Education Support Act 2003.  The Department receives student files, including encrypted tax file numbers, extracts details from students' files before forwarding those files to the ATO.  It does not decrypt this information and does not use, record or disclose the tax file numbers in any other way or for any other purpose.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Higher education providers as listed in Division 16 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 authorised under section 16-25 of that Act for the purposes of administering the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).  The providers receive tax file numbers on Request for Commonwealth assistance forms from students, send forms to the ATO and keep a record of the tax file numbers for notification of the HELP debt to the ATO.  Students can also lodge tax file number application or enquiry for an individual forms with providers and the providers receive lists from the ATO with the tax file number details of such students.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Vocational education and training providers as listed in Division 3 of Schedule 1A to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 authorised under section 6 of Schedule 1A for the purposes of administering the VET FEE-HELP Assistance Scheme.  The providers receive tax file numbers on the Request for Commonwealth assistance form from students, send the forms to the ATO and keep a record of the tax file numbers for notification of the VET FEE-HELP debt to the ATO.  Students can also lodge Tax file number application or enquiry for an individual forms with providers and the providers receive lists from the ATO with the tax file number details of such students.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

The Department of Human Services (including Centrelink, the Child Support Agency and Medicare Australia) can request a tax file number from recipients of payments in order to comply with, or in connection with exercising powers under, a law of the Commonwealth of a kind referred to in section 8WB(1A) of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Superannuation bodies and Employers can collect tax file numbers for taxation purposes under the Small Superannuation Accounts Act 1995 and the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

Disclosure: Employers can disclose tax file numbers to superannuation bodies.  Superannuation bodies can disclose tax file numbers to the ATO.

Regulated Superannuation Funds, Approved Deposit Funds and Regulated Exempt Public Sector Superannuation Schemes (as defined for the purposes of Part 25A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993) can collect tax file numbers of beneficiaries and applicants to become beneficiaries in connection with the operation or the possible future operation of that Act. The purpose of the collection is to allow the location and identification of members' benefits. The fund can also use the tax file number for the purpose of deducting correct taxation from eligible termination payments, and for making reports to the unclaimed money register administered by the ATO.

Disclosure:

  • to other regulated superannuation funds, regulated exempt public sector superannuation schemes, and approved deposit funds, when the benefits of members are transferred to the other fund, unless the owner of the tax file number requests in writing that the number not be disclosed.
  • to the ATO when reporting for the purposes of the unclaimed money register, or for eligible termination payment administration.

The ATO may disclose tax file numbers to the trustee(s) of superannuation funds under section 299TA of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.  This section allows the Commissioner to provide a superannuation fund with the correct tax file number where an incorrect tax file number has been reported.  Moreover, under section 299TB of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 where a tax file number has been incorrectly provided by a member of a superannuation fund, and the Commissioner becomes aware, the Commissioner is able to notify the trustee(s) of the superannuation fund.

Disclosure: to the trustee(s) of a superannuation fund.

Authorised deposit taking institutions, life insurance companies and trustees of a trust are authorised to receive tax file number information under Part 5, Division 2 of the First Home Saver Accounts Act 2008 for the operation or future operation of this Act and any other Superannuation Acts as defined in section 18 of this Act.

Disclosure:

  • to the ATO to determine government contributions.
  • to a superannuation provider (as defined by section 995-1 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997) which includes a superannuation fund, approved deposit fund or a retirement savings account.

The Child Support Registrar collects child and spouse maintenance payments from non-custodial parents as authorised under the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 and the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989.  The Registrar collects tax file numbers on application forms from parents and uses them to identify payments and generally administer the Acts.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Tax agents, solicitors and accountants. Tax agents registered under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, solicitors and accountants and other people acting on behalf of an individual or an employer may collect the tax file numbers of their clients or their client's employees (if their client is an employer) and use them as necessary to conduct the client's affairs.

Disclosure: to the ATO and the client only.

Investment bodies authorised to receive tax file number information under section 202DB of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 for the purpose of providing investment income reports to the ATO under taxation laws.  The following organisations are examples of investment bodies:

An authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) which includes banks, credit unions, building societies and other ADIs authorised under the Banking Act 1959.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Cooperative housing societies or similar societies which are registered or incorporated under a law relating to such societies that is in force in a State or Territory.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

A Financial services licensee for the purposes of Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act 2001.

Disclosure: to the ATO.  A financial services licensee may also disclose tax file number information to investment bodies when making investments on behalf of a client (in their capacity as an agent) and share registries that are agents of publicly listed companies for the purposes of maintaining their share registry and paying dividends.

Government bodies or Authorities of the Commonwealth, a State or Territory in their capacity as investment bodies as explained in subsection 202D(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Managers of unit trusts to which a unit trust scheme relates as defined in section 202A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.  This includes cash management trusts, property trusts and arrangements declared by the Minister by notice published in the Gazette to be a unit trust for the purposes of this definition.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Public companies within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Solicitors as defined in section 202A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 which includes a solicitor, barrister and solicitor or legal practitioner of the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State or Territory.

Disclosure: to the ATO.  A solicitor may also disclose tax file number information to investment bodies when making investments on behalf of a client.

Any other authorised recipients or approved recipients within the meaning of Guideline 1.2 of the Tax File Number Guidelines 2011.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

In addition to the classes of lawful tax file number recipients listed above, paragraphs 8WA(lAA)(a), (b) and (c) of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 provide that in certain circumstances, other people and organisations can require or request tax file numbers.

Generally, the reason for the requirement or request would need to be a tax related one.  For example, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal may request a tax file number when it receives an appeal from a taxpayer against a taxation assessment. People appointed to perform a duty arising from any Act administered by the Commissioner of Taxation may in certain circumstances also request a tax file number.  An example of this is members of the Tax Practitioners Board in their capacity as members of that Board.

In addition, a person's representative (agent) could require or request a tax file number when acting on behalf of that person.  This is consistent with part (b) of the definition of "approved recipient" described in Guideline 1.2 of the Tax File Number Guidelines 2011.