Our reference: DMA15/00010
Data Matching Gatekeeper
Special Purpose Data Steward Team
Australian Taxation Office
By email: [redacted]
Request for exemption from Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration
I refer to your correspondence of 18 September 2015 regarding the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) Ride Sourcing data matching program protocol (the data matching program).
The purpose of the data matching program is to assist the ATO with ensuring that specified taxpayers are meeting relevant obligations regarding ride sourcing income, and to provide the ATO with insights and intelligence relating to voluntary compliance and compliance profiles of individuals involved in ride sourcing. The program will involve the collection of the account information of ride sourcing facilitators from their financial institutions.
I note that 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 the collection of data from the source entities.
Consideration of issues
Under Guideline 10, an agency seeking an exemption 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 outlined in Guideline 10 at Appendix A to the protocol. The ATO has identified a number of beneficial objectives that support the conduct of the program, including:
- promoting voluntary compliance and assisting taxpayers who are failing to meet their obligations
- gaining insights and intelligence that may be gained into the behaviour and compliance profiles of individuals and businesses involved in ride sourcing services
- ensuring compliance with registration, lodgement, reporting and payment obligations.
I consider that the ATO has provided appropriate reasons justifying a variation to the data destruction requirements in the context of this DMP. Specifically, it is considered that compliance with the data destruction timeframes in the case of this DMP would:
- limit the ability of the ATO to compare collected data and taxpayer records across multiple years
- limit the ability of the ATO to protect the public revenue
- limit the ability of the ATO to conduct trend analysis and profiling of the ride sourcing market and its participants.
I have considered the information before me 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 the 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 the collection of data from the source entities, unless a further exemption is approved.
This exemption is only applicable to the Ride Sourcing data matching program protocol.
Publication on the OAIC website
Under Guideline 10.6, it is my normal practice to make exemption requests publicly available. I note that the ATO has stated that it does not require the exemption request to be kept confidential and, as such, it will be published on the OAIC website.
Should you have any questions, please contact [redacted].
Acting Australian Information Commissioner
30 September 2015