The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) matches external data with its own to combat tax fraud and tax evasion. If the ATO suspects that you are engaging in fraudulent activity such as not reporting all your income, they may check your financial records to see whether they match their internal data.
On its website, the ATO provides insight into its data-matching programs, and how it exchanges data with other Australian government agencies.
The ATO runs specific data-matching programs to understand industry trends and identify businesses that are not reporting all their income, operating outside of the system, or are not lodging tax returns.
Specific data-matching activities are undertaken across six key areas.
Credit and debit cards
While information is not obtained about individual credit or debit card holders, banks and financial institutions are required to report total credit and debit card payments received by Australian businesses to the ATO.
Further information is provided in the Credit and debit cards data-matching protocol.
Specialised payment systems
The ATO obtains data on electronic payments made through specialised payment systems such as PayPal, to Australian businesses. This data is analysed in conjunction with data collected through the credit and debit card data-matching program.
Further information is provided in the Specialised payment systems data-matching protocol.
Data is obtained from online sellers who:
- Sell goods and services to the value of $12,000 or more.
- Have clients whose annual trading activity amounts to $12,000 or more.
- Operate a business in Australia that is governed by Australian law.
- Provide an online marketplace for businesses and individuals to buy and sell goods and services.
- Track the activity of registered sellers.
- Have trading activity for the time period in question.
Further information is provided in the Online selling data-matching protocol.
Data is collected from all ride-sourcing facilitators operating in Australia, such as Uber, and their financial institutions. This data is used to identify ride-sourcing drivers and ensure that they are meeting their tax obligations.
Further information is provided in the Ride-sourcing data-matching program protocol.
Motor vehicle registries
The ATO obtains data from motor vehicle registries to ensure that individuals and businesses involved in buying and selling motor vehicles are meeting their tax obligations.
Data is collected for all vehicles sold or transferred where the value is $10,000 or greater.
Further information is provided in the Motor vehicle registries data-matching protocol.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are an attractive option for those who intentionally want to avoid tax responsibilities, but some people are genuinely not aware of their tax obligations relating to cryptocurrencies.
Data is obtained from Australian cryptocurrency designated service providers (DSPs) to ensure people trading in cryptocurrency are paying the right amount of tax.
Further information is provided in the Cryptocurrency data matching protocol.
Exchanging data with other Australian Government agencies
The ATO exchanges information collected from the data-matching program with a number of Australian government agencies including Services Australia, the Data-Matching Agency (DMA) – a separate agency within Services Australia – as well as with Centrelink, the Child Support Registrar, and the Department of Home Affairs.
These agencies work together to combat tax evasion, incorrect personal financial assistance payments, and to combat fraud within the welfare system.
Australia is taking a whole-of-government approach to combating fraud and tax crime. Key to this approach is the ATO’s data-matching program, which gathers essential data across a range of industries to identify instances of tax evasion and related misconduct. This data is exchanged with other government agencies, which collaborate to deal with people and businesses who don’t comply with their tax and super obligations.