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ATO acquires Home Affairs data

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will be acquiring data from the Department of Home affairs for the financial years of 2020-21 to 2022-23. This protocol consolidates the existing visa data-matching programs and outlines the ATOs intention to continue collecting data on visas granted in the period 2020-21 to 2022-23 financial years. The data is matched against the ATO records to ensure visa holders, visa sponsors and migration agents are meeting their tax and superannuation obligations.

Data collected will include information on visa holders and applicants, sponsors, education providers and Registered Migration Agents.

If you are unsure about your requirements as a sponsor or a visa holder when it comes to Australian tax please get in touch with us.

The data items the ATO will acquire include:

  • Address history for visa applicants and sponsors.
  • Contact history for visa applicants and sponsors.
  • All visa grants.
  • Visa grant status by point in time.
  • Migration agents (visa application preparer who assisted or facilitated the processing of the visa).
  • Address history for migration agents.
  • Contact history for migration agents.
  • All international travel movements undertaken by visa holders (arrivals and departures).
  • Sponsor details
  • Education providers (educational institution where a student visa holder intends to undertake their study).
  • Visa subclass name.

The Department of Home Affairs estimates that 10 million records will be obtained each financial year.

The guidelines assist Australian Government agencies to use data-matching as an administrative tool in a way that complies with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) and are consistent with good privacy practice.

Why does the ATO look at visa data?

Once you are granted a visa, part of the conditions of your stay in Australia include engaging with the tax and superannuation systems. The visa data-matching program will allow the ATO to identify and address taxation risks of visa holders, visa sponsors and migration agents, including:

  • Helping process tax file number (TFN) registration for visa holders entering the country including tailored advice for TFN applicants’ employers
  • Ensuring appropriate taxation treatment is being applied by employers of visa holders including registration, lodgement, reporting and payment obligations for pay as you go (PAYG) withholding, fringe benefits tax and super guarantee
  • Determining if applicants departing Australia are entitled to access superannuation
  • Identifying taxpayers who incorrectly claim Australian residency in their income tax returns for financial gain
  • Identifying incorrect tax refunds through pre-issue compliance work
  • Identifying and cancelling Australian business numbers (ABNs) obtained and used inappropriately by visa holders as contractors, when they should be classified as employees
  • Assessing ABN eligibility
    • Understanding visa holders who are applying for an ABN and whether their visa class allows them to hold an ABN
    • Determining if an ABN should be cancelled as the ABN holder is no longer in the country
  • Ensuring individuals are correctly entitled to COVID-19 JobKeeper payments
  • Supporting Foreign Investment Program compliance activities including
    • Identifying people who are no longer foreign persons according to Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and using this data to update the Foreign Ownership of Land and Water Entitlements register
    • Identifying the foreign person status of property holders in Australia in regard to residential, commercial and agricultural land
    • Identifying temporary residents holding multiple established dwellings and temporary residents renting out an established dwelling
    • Monitoring temporary residents holding established dwellings to ensure disposal of their interest is within relevant timeframes
    • Ascertaining whether a foreign person has been onshore for 183 days or more to confirm their residentially occupied statement in their lodged vacancy fee returns.

If you are unsure about your compliance requirements for your sponsored workers please contact us today.

For more information visit the Government website.

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