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Classes of lawful tax file number recipients

Updated November 2017

Compiled by the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority pursuant to the Privacy (Tax File Number) Rule 2015.

Sections 8WA and 8WB of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 make it an offence to request, record, use or disclose tax file numbers, other than as permitted by these sections.  The maximum penalty that applies to offenders is a fine of 100 penalty units ($21,000 as at 1 July 2017) or two years imprisonment or both.

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

Lawful Tax File Number Recipients

Government Departments and Agencies

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 systems efficiently and effectively within the provisions of taxation laws. The ATO may request a tax file number for a variety of purposes, as provided in subsection 8WA(1AA) of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

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 ATO may disclose the tax file number of a beneficiary to the trustee of a superannuation fund pursuant to section 299TA of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993. This section allows the Commissioner to provide the trustee of a superannuation fund with the correct tax file number of a beneficiary where a tax file number has been cancelled, withdrawn, or is otherwise incorrect and the beneficiary has a tax file number.

Under section 299TB of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993, the Commissioner is able to give the trustee of a superannuation entity a notice if the Commissioner is satisfied that the tax file number of a beneficiary has been cancelled, withdrawn or is otherwise incorrect and the Commissioner is not satisfied that the beneficiary has a tax file number.

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

The ATO may provide the Inspector-General of Taxation with a tax file number of a complainant for the purposes of the Inspector-General of Taxation’s investigation under section 37C of the Inspector-General of Taxation Act 2003.

The Inspector-General of Taxation may request a person making a complaint to quote their tax file number pursuant to subsection 37B(1) of the Inspector-General of Taxation Act 2003.

Disclosure: to the ATO for the purposes of an investigation of a complaint. 

The Departments of Education and Training, Human Services, Social Services and Veterans' Affairs may request a tax file number from recipients of assistance payments such as pensions, benefits and allowances.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

The Department of Education and Training may request student tax file numbers for the purpose of administering the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) under Division 179 and Division 14 of Schedule 1A to the Higher Education Support Act 2003.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

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 may collect tax file numbers on application forms from parents and use them to administer these Acts.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

A State or Territory is required to report information to the ATO regarding the transfer of a freehold or leasehold interest in real property situated in the State or Territory under table item 3 of section 396-55 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953. Pursuant to subsection 396-60(3) of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953, the State or Territory may request an entity to quote their tax file number for the purposes of this report if the entity is a party to the reportable transaction.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Other Entities

Higher education providers, as listed in Division 16 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003, are authorised under Division 187 of that Act to request tax file numbers for the purpose of administering the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).

Disclosure: to the ATO, and on behalf of students, to the Department of Employment.

Vocational education and training providers, as regulated by Division 3 of Schedule 1A to the Higher Education Support Act 2003, are authorised to request tax file numbers under section 6 of Schedule 1A for the purposes of administering the VET FEE-HELP Assistance Scheme.

Disclosure: to the ATO, and on behalf of students, to the Department of Employment.

Employers may receive an employee’s tax file number via a Tax File Number Declaration form from employees for the pay as you go withholding regime and to fulfil their superannuation obligations. This is pursuant to Division 3 of Part VA of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and Part 25A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.

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

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 collect employee tax file numbers to form part of its statement to the ATO.

Disclosure: to the ATO, and 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 schemes under Division 392 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 may collect employee tax file numbers to report to the ATO on behalf of the employee share scheme provider.

Disclosure: 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, may 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.

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.

Investment bodies may request tax file number information from investors under Part VA to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. 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 in their capacity as an investment body in accordance with section 202D of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

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 Rule 6(2) of the Privacy (Tax File Number) Rule 2015.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

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Other Specified Circumstances

In addition to the classes of lawful tax file number recipients listed above, a person can request a tax file number when acting on behalf of another person. This is consistent with part (b) of the definition of “approved recipient” described in Rule 6(2) of the Privacy (Tax File Number) Rule 2015.

Paragraphs 8WA(1AA)(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.

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