ATO to trade data on 12 million Australians on Centrelink
Up to 12 million Australians on Centrelink will now have their real-time salary and wage data shared between the ATO and Services Australia under a new data-matching program.
The ATO has now commenced the sharing of Single Touch Payroll (STP) data with Services Australia, formerly the Department of Human Services.
According to a gazette notice published this week, the data will help Services Australia identify where there is a significant difference between STP income and the income estimate the person has provided to Services Australia.
It will also bolster Services Australia’s debt recovery process by re-establishing contact with customers it has since lost contact with.
The new data-matching program will also help Services Australia prefill employer data on its online services, and support the timely confirmation of employment and establishment of child support employer withholdings.
The exchange of information between the ATO and Services Australia is set to cover approximately 10 million to 12 million Australians until the end of June 2021, when the program will be reviewed by both agencies.
These individuals will be identified by Services Australia providing information about its customers to the ATO, and the ATO matching that information against ATO records to locate a customer match.
Individuals receiving Centrelink payments — including JobSeeker, family assistance payments and child support payments — will be among those whose information will be shared with the ATO.
Where there is a match with the ATO’s records, the Tax Office will then provide Services Australia with STP data including year-to-date salary and wage details, including pay period details.
The exchange of information will take place on a daily basis, with 460 million pay events to be shared over the 2021 financial year.
According to Services Australia, it will not solely rely on the ATO’s STP data to make decisions affecting customers’ eligibility, entitlements or child support assessments, and will instead reach out to individuals or a reliable secondary source of data for confirmation.
Services Australia will notify the ATO when an individual is no longer a client of interest, and the ATO will cease sharing STP data for that individual, according to the protocols dictating the data-matching program.
The latest data-matching program comes after both the ATO and Services Australia embarked on a similar program earlier this year to verify individuals’ eligibility criteria for JobKeeper payments, the cash-flow boost and the early access to superannuation.