The new data-matching program will see the ATO supply Services Australia, formerly the Department of Human Services, with a list of employees who have been nominated for JobKeeper by an eligible employer, with Services Australia then cross-checking this against its list of social security payment customers and claimants.
About 3.3 million employees working for over 870,000 businesses are now covered by the $1,500 per fortnight wage subsidy.
The exchange of information with the ATO and Services Australia will allow it to identify the overlapping populations of people who may be registered for both the JobKeeper program and social security payments.
Individuals who are already receiving the $1,500 per fortnight JobKeeper payment from their employers may be earning above the income cut-off point and be unable to receive a social security payment.
Once Services Australia identifies an individual who may not have correctly declared their JobKeeper income, the agency will then contact them through a letter, text message, or phone call to remind them of their reporting obligations and potential consequences of incorrectly updating their circumstances while in receipt of a social security payment.
An example of a letter reads: “The Australian Taxation Office has given us information that you may be receiving JobKeeper payment. The JobKeeper payment may change the amount of Centrelink support you are receiving.
“It is important that you report any income you and or your partner get from your employer(s); this includes the JobKeeper payment. If you don’t report all your income, we may pay you too much and you may have a debt to pay back.”
In some cases, Services Australia may contact a customer via a statutory notice, to require the customer to provide certain information to the agency within a reasonable time frame.
If a customer does not provide the required information within the specified time frame, the agency may suspend or subsequently cancel the customer’s social security payment.
Information exchanged between both government agencies will include individuals’ tax file numbers, names and their date of birth.
The data-matching program will run until October, with a possible extension should the government decide to extend the JobKeeper program beyond its legislated September end date.
The new program comes after the ATO announced last month that it would acquire the data of 3 million Australians from Services Australia to verify individuals’ eligibility criteria for JobKeeper payments, temporary early access to superannuation and temporary cash-flow boost.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.