• The Department of Home Affairs announces data exchange program with ATO

The Department of Home Affairs have released a gazette notice announcing a broad data exchange program between themselves and the Australian Taxation Office.

The collaboration between the two departments will now allow for the further exchange of information.  From The Department of Home Affairs, this will include:

  • biographical details, including name, address and date of birth of clients who are, or were in the three most recently completed financial years, holders of a 457 Visa or Temporary Skills Shortage (subclass 482) visa; and
  • details of these clients’ business sponsors.

In return, the ATO will provide income and employment data for the individuals matched.

Impact

This initiative comes on the back of recent public controversies of fraud and non-compliance that have been prevalent in large Australian businesses, including the sourcing of cheaper foreign workers and the manipulation of the occupation list attached to the Temporary Skills Shortage visa streams.

Employer’s sponsoring these temporary visas should be aware of the implications of this programme, as the details shared will identify whether business sponsors are;

  • complying with their sponsorship obligations including paying visa holders the correct amounts, and
  • complying with their visa conditions including working only for an approved employer, and working only in the approved occupation.

Where non-compliance is identified, action may be taken including the cancellation of visas or the approval of a sponsor which can have a detrimental impact on a businesses’ operational efficiency and public image.

Whilst the difference between this and previous similar data matching programs is barely distinguishable, we believe that this may have broader risks for employers whom have unwittingly become non-compliant on the above fronts.

The gazette may be accessed here.