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Centrelink to Match Income Data with ATO Records

The Department of Human Services (DHS), which oversees Centrelink, has advised of a data matching project that will allow them to compare the existing income data they have with the tax return data that has already been reported to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Tagged by the DHS as the “Non-employment income data matching project”, this initiative will enable the DHS “to identify social welfare recipients who have not disclosed income and assets.”

According to the DHS, the data that it receives from the ATO will be matched electronically with certain internal departmental records in order to identify non-compliance with income or other reporting obligations.

The department is expecting to match an approximate seven million unique records held in the Centrelink database. Based on the non-compliance criteria, the DHS anticipates that it will examine around 20,000 records in the initial phase of the project.

The DHS will use its “customer” information in the context of the income data project to:

  • verify the information reported to them;
  • identify social welfare recipients who may not have disclosed income;
  • match and validate ATO’s tax return and pay-as-you-go data;
  • identify discrepancies in income declared to the DHS; and
  • consider if the department will initiate relevant compliance action (including debt recovery or a referral to the Director of Public Prosecutions).

Individuals who may be affected by the data matching project include welfare recipients who have lodged their tax returns with the ATO during the period 2011 to 2014.

The department stipulates in its notice that the standards for data matching activities will protect the privacy of the individuals involved.


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