The Department of Human Services (DHS) has released details of a data-matching program which will enable it to match income data it collects from social welfare recipients with tax return-related data reported to the ATO.

The data matching will assist DHS to identify social welfare recipients who may not have disclosed income and assets to it. In addition, data received from the ATO will be electronically matched with certain departmental records to identify noncompliance with income or other reporting obligations.

DHS expects to match each of the approximately seven million unique records held in its Centrelink database. Based on non-compliance criteria, DHS anticipates it will examine approximately 20,000 records in the first phase of the project.

The category of people who may be affected by the data-matching includes welfare recipients who have lodged a tax return with the ATO during the period 2011 to 2014.

DHS says the information will be used to:

  • verify the information reported to it by social welfare recipients;
  • identify social welfare recipients who may not have disclosed income to DHS;
  • match and validate the tax return and the PAYG datasets;
  • identify discrepancies in the income declared to DHS by social welfare recipients; and
  • consider whether it will initiate compliance action in relation to particular social welfare recipients (including debt recovery or a referral to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions).
Source: Commonwealth Gazette, Notice of data matching project between Department of Human Services and Australian Taxation Office, 19 August 2016, https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2016G01112.