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Classes of lawful tax file number recipients

Updated November 2016

Compiled by the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority pursuant to the Privacy (Tax File Number) Rule 2015.

Sections 8WA and 8WB of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 make it an offence to request, record, use or disclose tax file numbers, other than as permitted by these sections. The maximum penalty that applies to offenders is an $18,000 fine or two years imprisonment or both.

The following is a list of the classes of entities that are lawfully able to request tax file numbers, and an explanation of who the recipients may disclose the tax file number to.

Lawful Tax File Number Recipients

Government Departments and Agencies

The ATO uses tax file numbers in accordance with taxation laws for the general administration of the taxation and superannuation systems. Tax file number information is used to administer the system efficiently and effectively within the provisions of taxation laws.

Disclosure: To any entity to the extent required or permitted by, or reasonably necessary in order to comply with, or in connection with exercising powers under, a taxation law or a law of the Commonwealth of a kind referred to in subsection 8WB(1A) of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

The ATO may disclose the tax file number of a beneficiary to the trustee of a superannuation fund under section 299TA of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993. This section allows the Commissioner to provide the trustee of a superannuation fund with the correct tax file number of a beneficiary where a tax file number has been cancelled, withdrawn, or is otherwise incorrect and the beneficiary has a tax file number.

Under section 299TB of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993, the Commissioner is able to give the trustee of a superannuation entity a notice if the Commissioner is satisfied that the tax file number of a beneficiary has been cancelled, withdrawn or is otherwise incorrect and the Commissioner is not satisfied that the beneficiary has a tax file number.

Disclosure: to the trustee(s) of a superannuation fund.

The ATO may provide the Inspector-General of Taxation with a tax file number of a complainant for the purposes of the Inspector-General of Taxation’s investigation under section 37C of the Inspector-General of Taxation Act 2003.

The Inspector-General of Taxation may request a person making a complaint to quote their tax file number under subsection 37B(1) of the Inspector-General of Taxation Act 2003.

Disclosure: to the ATO for the purposes of an investigation.

The Departments of Education and Training, Human Services, Social Services and Veterans' Affairs have the authority to request a tax file number from recipients of assistance payments such as pensions, benefits and allowances. The Departments also use tax file numbers in carrying out matching activities under the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990.

Disclosure: to the ATO. Also to officers of Centrelink who are responsible for matching data under the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990.

The Department of Education and Training in their capacity as an administrator of the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) receive student files, including encrypted tax file numbers, extracts details from students' files before forwarding those files to the ATO. It does not decrypt this information and does not use, record or disclose the tax file numbers in any other way or for any other purpose.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

The Department of Human Services (including Centrelink, the Child Support Agency and Medicare Australia) can request a tax file number from recipients of payments in order to comply with, or in connection with exercising powers under, a law of the Commonwealth of a kind referred to in section 8WA(1AA) of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

The Child Support Registrar collects child and spouse maintenance payments from non-custodial parents as authorised under the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 and the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989. The Registrar collects tax file numbers on application forms from parents and uses them to administer these Acts.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

A State or Territory is required to report information to the Commissioner of Taxation regarding the transfer of a freehold or leasehold interest in real property situated in the State or Territory under table item 3 of section 396-55 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953. Under subsection 396-60(3) of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953, the State or Territory may request an entity to quote their tax file number for the purposes of this report if the entity is a party to the reportable transaction.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Other Entities

Higher education providers as listed in Division 16 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 receive tax file numbers on Request for Commonwealth Assistance forms from students, send forms to the ATO and keep a record of the tax file numbers for notification of the HELP debt to the ATO. Students can also lodge a Tax File Number Application or Enquiry for an Individual form with providers and the providers receive lists from the ATO with the tax file number details of such students.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Vocational education and training providers as listed in Division 3 of Schedule 1A to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 receive tax file numbers on the Request for Commonwealth assistance form from students, send the forms to the ATO and keep a record of the tax file numbers for notification of the VET FEE-HELP debt to the ATO. Students can also lodge Tax File Number Application or Enquiry for an Individual form with providers and the providers receive lists from the ATO with the tax file number details of such students.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Employers who make a payment are required to withhold an amount from the payment and then pay the amount to the Commissioner of Taxation under the pay as you go (PAYG) withholding regime as outlined in Part 2-5 of the Taxation Administration Act 1953. Payments include salary, wages, commissions, bonuses or allowances that are paid to an individual as an employee. Under Division 3 of Part VA of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 employers collect tax file numbers from their employees via a tax file number declaration as part of their PAYG obligations. Employers record the tax file numbers in their pay-roll systems and use them to prepare their employees' payment summaries under the PAYG withholding system.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Employers can collect the tax file numbers of their employees under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 in connection with the operation of that Act. The purpose of the collection is to pass the tax file number to the superannuation fund to which they contribute on the employee's behalf.

Disclosure: to the trustee of a nominated superannuation fund to which they contribute on behalf of the employee.

Employers can collect tax file numbers for taxation purposes under the Small Superannuation Accounts Act 1995 and the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Employers who choose to use the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House run by Medicare Australia may need to provide tax file numbers to Medicare Australia.

Disclosure: to Medicare Australia.

Employee share scheme providers who have obligations under Division 392 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 in respect of employee share schemes may engage a share registry or other agent to meet statutory reporting obligations on their behalf. Employee share scheme providers may need to provide employee tax file numbers to a share registry or other agent for this purpose.

Disclosure: to a share registry or other agent of the employee share scheme provider.

Share registries and agents of employee share scheme providers who perform statutory reporting functions on behalf of employers in respect of employee share schemes under Division 392 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 may provide employee tax file numbers to the ATO on behalf of the employee share scheme provider.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Regulated Superannuation Funds, Approved Deposit Funds and Regulated Exempt Public Sector Superannuation Schemes (as defined for the purposes of Part 25A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993) can collect tax file numbers of beneficiaries and applicants to become beneficiaries in connection with the operation or the possible future operation of that Act. The purpose of the collection is to allow the location and identification of members' benefits. The fund can also use the tax file number for the purpose of deducting correct taxation from eligible termination payments, and for making reports to the unclaimed money register administered by the ATO.

Disclosure:

  • to other regulated superannuation funds, regulated exempt public sector superannuation schemes, and approved deposit funds, when the benefits of members are transferred to the other fund, unless the owner of the tax file number requests in writing that the number not be disclosed.

  • to the ATO when reporting for the purposes of the unclaimed money register, or for eligible termination payment administration.

Tax agents, solicitors and accountants. Tax agents registered under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, solicitors and accountants and other people acting on behalf of an individual or an employer may collect the tax file numbers of their clients or their client's employees (if their client is an employer) and use them as necessary to conduct the client's affairs.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Investment bodies may request tax file number information from investors under Part VA to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. The following organisations are examples of investment bodies:

An authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) which includes banks, credit unions, building societies and other ADIs authorised under the Banking Act 1959.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Cooperative housing societies or similar societies which are registered or incorporated under a law relating to such societies that is in force in a State or Territory.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

A Financial services licensee for the purposes of Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act 2001.

Disclosure: to the ATO. A financial services licensee may also disclose tax file number information to investment bodies when making investments on behalf of a client (in their capacity as an agent) and share registries that are agents of publicly listed companies for the purposes of maintaining their share registry and paying dividends.

Government bodies or Authorities of the Commonwealth, a State or Territory in their capacity as investment bodies as explained in subsection 202D(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Managers of unit trusts to which a unit trust scheme relates as defined in section 202A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. This includes cash management trusts, property trusts and arrangements declared by the Minister by notice published in the Gazette to be a unit trust for the purposes of this definition.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Public companies within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

Solicitors in their capacity as an investment body in accordance with section 202D of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

Disclosure: to the ATO. A solicitor may also disclose tax file number information to investment bodies when making investments on behalf of a client.

Any other authorised recipients or approved recipients within the meaning of Rule 6(2) of the Privacy (Tax File Number) Rule 2015.

Disclosure: to the ATO.

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Other Specified Circumstances

In addition to the classes of lawful tax file number recipients listed above, a person's representative (agent) can request a tax file number when acting on behalf of that person. This is consistent with part (b) of the definition of "approved recipient" described in Rule 6(2) of the Privacy (Tax File Number) Rule 2015.

Paragraphs 8WA(1AA)(a), (b) and (c) of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 provide that in certain circumstances, other people and organisations can require or request tax file numbers.

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