Our reference: DMA14/00016

Data Matching Gatekeeper
Australian Taxation Office
By email: [redacted]

Dear [redacted]

Motor vehicle registries: 2013–14, 2014–15 and 2015–16 financial years data matching program

I refer to your correspondence received on 25 November 2014, which provided the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) Motor vehicle registries – 2013-14, 2014-15 & 2015-16 financial years data matching program protocol for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) consideration. The program proposes to match vehicle transfer and registration data from State and Territory motor vehicle registering authorities against the ATO’s records to identify taxpayers who may not be meeting their registration, reporting, lodgement and payment obligations.

The ATO is seeking an exemption to the data destruction timeframes contained in Guideline 7 of the Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration 2014 (the guidelines). Specifically, the ATO is seeking to retain data for three years from receipt of all data sets.

The ATO considers that an exemption from the usual data destruction timeframes is necessary because compliance with the data destruction timeframes would inhibit its ability to identify taxpayers who may be subject to administrative action and therefore result in loss of public revenue.

Consideration of issues under Guideline 10

Under Guideline 10, the ATO must explain the public interest grounds that justify any inconsistency with the requirements of the guidelines. I note that the ATO has addressed the matters contained in Guideline 10 and identified a number of benefits in support of the conduct of this program, including:

  • allowing the ATO to identify breaches of taxation laws and recover taxation revenue
  • maintaining the integrity of and community confidence in the taxation system.

Exemption approval

I have considered the information provided by the ATO and agree that compliance with the data destruction requirements contained in Guideline 7 would significantly reduce the effectiveness of this data matching program.

I approve the ATO’s request to retain information collected during this data matching program for a period longer than 90 days. I have agreed to this exemption on the understanding that the information will not be retained for a period longer than three years from the date of receipt of all data files from source entities, unless a further exemption is approved.

This exemption is only applicable to the data collected for the Motor vehicle registries – 2013-14, 2014-15 & 2015-16 financial years data matching program.

Publication on the OAIC website

Under Guideline 10.6, it is my normal practice to make exemption requests publicly available. The ATO has advised it does not request that this advice be kept confidential and, as such, I will consider making it publicly available on the OAIC website.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter please contact [redacted].

Yours sincerely
Timothy Pilgrim
Australian Privacy Commissioner
12 December 2014