New data matching program between Centrelink and ATO regarding STP

Notice was posted this week in the most recent Commonwealth Gazette (C2020G00744) of a data matching program that is to be launched between the ATO and Services Australia — the government body that became the executive agency in February this year in the Social Services portfolio (responsible for health, social and welfare payments and services).

The notice of the new data matching program notes that the exchange of data involves comparing information held by the ATO in relation to Single Touch Payroll (STP) and information reported to Services Australia’s “customers” in relation to social security payments.

The aim, as described in the Gazette notice, is to enable:

  • comparison of pre-filling employer details (as reported through STP) onto Services Australia online services for review by customers,
  • the supporting of timely confirmation of employment and establishment of child support employer withholdings (where appropriate),
  • the identifying where there is a significant difference between STP income and the estimate the customer has provided to Services Australia, and nudging the customer to suggest that they revisit their income estimate,
  • the supporting of existing debt recovery processes, including the contacting of customers with whom contact has been lost,
  • analysis of the data with a view to improving Service Australia’s processes.

A protocol document describing the program was developed by Centrelink in consultation with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, which is available here. This document states that the data matching program “will exchange personal information and employer/employee relationship and payroll data between Services Australia and the ATO where there is a mutual relationship for the individual”.

Further, the protocol document says that part of the objectives of the exercise is to:

  • support customers by prompting them to update their income estimates to assist them to receive the right rate of payment at the right time
  • reduce employer burden by minimising the contact that employers must have with Services Australia to provide payroll information for activities like:
    • establishing child support employer withholding and
    • existing debt recovery processes
  • assist Service Australia with discussion with non-current customers to determine their capacity to repay a debt.

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