Data Sharing Between the ATO & Department of Home Affairs


On 3 November 2020, the Commonwealth of Australia issued a Government notice stating that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will acquire visa data from the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) for visas granted between the financial years of 2020/21 to 2022/23.

This announcement directly affects all visa holders, applicants, and sponsors in Australia.

Moreover, on 10 July 2023, the ATO also announced their intention to continue collecting passenger movement data from DOHA through to 2025/26 as part of their data-matching program.


Visa Data Items


The data items include:

  • Address and contact history for visa applicants and sponsors
  • All visa grants
  • Visa grant status by point-in-time
  • Address and contact history for migration agents
  • All international travel movements by visa holders (arrivals and departures)
  • Sponsor details
  • Education providers; and
  • Visa subclass name.

The Government estimates that approximately 10 million individuals will be affected each year.


But Why?


The data acquired will be matched with the ATO’s data to identify non-compliance with tax and superannuation laws.

The main objectives of this program is to:

  • Ensure visa holders and sponsors register, lodge, and correctly report and pay their tax and superannuation obligations
  • Identify fraud or entities exploiting the visa framework
  • Cancel ineligible ABN holders
  • Ensure compliance with Australia’s foreign investment rules; and
  • Identify and assist those individuals and businesses who may be failing to meet their registration and/or lodgement obligations.


For a Visa Holder or Applicant


The ATO will be using the data from DOHA to check if you are currently reporting your income correctly and claiming the correct tax rates.

There is a common misconception that a person who is considered a resident for tax purposes has to be a resident for migration purposes. This is incorrect.

Residency for tax purposes is different from residency for migration purposes.

Temporary resident migrants can be Australian residents for tax purposes.

For example, if you are currently living in Australia as the holder of a temporary visa (such as subclasses 188, 482, 485, 489, 491, 500 or a bridging visa), you will be considered a temporary resident for tax purposes and will be taxed on your Australian income only, which means your foreign income is not taxed in Australia.

However, if you hold either a bridging or a temporary visa and have entered into a spousal or de facto relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you will be a resident for tax purposes and will be taxed on your worldwide income.

Read more about this here. 


For Sponsors


The ATO will be using the data from DOHA to check whether you have been correctly reporting your individual and business tax and superannuation obligations to the ATO.


For Individual Visa Holders Who Operate Businesses in Australia


The ATO will be using the data from DOHA to check whether you are an eligible ABN holder and whether you have fully complied with Australia’s foreign investment rules.

That said, not all temporary visa holders will be considered temporary residents for tax purposes.

In the same way, not all Australian permanent residents and citizens will be considered a resident for tax purposes. There are some exceptions.

Determining residency for tax purposes involves the application of a person’s particular circumstances against tax residency rules.

In some cases, a person may be a resident of more than one tax jurisdiction, thus requiring payment of taxes on the person’s total worldwide income.

In such circumstances, the provisions of the double tax agreement may be used to determine where the tax liability ought to be paid.


Example – ATO JobKeeper Eligibility


Visa data for 1 March 2020 to 28 March 2021 has been used to confirm JobKeeper eligibility.

The data supported pre-and-post-issue compliance checks, enabling the ATO to follow up on false or misleading declarations.

These compliance checks are expected to continue in the 2022/23 financial year.


Passenger Movements Data-Matching Program


The ATO has been conducting the passenger movements data-matching program since March 2020.

The most recent data-matching protocol for this program was published in April 2021 and covered data from the 2016/17 to 2022/23 financial years.

In July 2023, the ATO also announced their intention to continue collecting passenger movements from DOHA until 2025/26 as part of their data-matching program.

Data items of approximately 115,000 individuals will be obtained each financial year, including:

  • Full names
  • Date of birth
  • Arrival and departure dates
  • Passport information; and
  • Visa types and status.

The information gathered will be matched electronically by the ATO to identify taxpayers who may require assistance meeting their tax and superannuation obligations.


Contact Us


For professional consultation on how data sharing between the ATO and the Department of Home Affairs may impact your immigration status, contact Bambrick Legal today:

Please note: Our migration and citizenship consultations are provided on a fee basis.

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