Our reference: DMA16/00005
Data Matching Gatekeeper
Smarter Data Program
Australian Taxation Office
Request for exemption from Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration
I refer to your correspondence of 4 April 2016 regarding the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) Specialised Payment Systems 2014-15 to 2016-17 data matching program protocol (the program).
The purpose of the program is to match data about electronic payments received by businesses through specialised payment systems against ATO records to identify those businesses that may not be meeting their compliance obligations.
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 (the Guidelines). Specifically, the ATO is seeking to retain data for five years from receipt of all verified data files 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 in the protocol. The ATO has identified a number of benefits, which support the conduct of the program, including:
- the protection of public revenue through identification of non-compliance and recovery of tax revenue
- improving voluntary compliance by educating taxpayers and deterring non-compliant taxpayers
- promoting public support of, and confidence in, the integrity of the tax system.
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 five years from the date of receipt of all verified data files from the source entities, unless a further exemption is approved.
This exemption is only applicable to the Specialised Payment Systems 2014-15 to 2016-17 data matching program protocol.
Publication on the OAIC website
Under Guideline 10.6, it is my normal practice to make exemption requests publicly available. The ATO has not requested that this advice 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
18 April 2016