The Tax Office will now acquire data on active and newly granted visas in the period 2020–21 to 2022–23 financial years, building on its visa data-matching program that began more than a decade ago.
Records for up to 10 million individuals are estimated to be obtained each financial year and will help the ATO ensure visa holders, visa sponsors and migration agents are meeting their tax and superannuation obligations.
The extension of the data-matching program will bear greater significance this year as visa data will be used to confirm eligibility for the JobKeeper program.
Eligible employees under the JobKeeper program have been defined as an Australian resident under the Social Security Act 1991, and requires that they are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa or a Protected Special Category Visa Holder.
Accordingly, the ATO will examine visa data from 1 March 2020 to 28 March 2021 to ensure individuals are correctly entitled to the wage subsidy.
“The data will support pre-issue and post-issue compliance checks enabling us to follow up potentially false or misleading declarations,” the ATO said.
The visa data will also be addressing other taxation risks including identifying and cancelling Australian business numbers (ABNs) obtained and used inappropriately by visa holders as contractors, when they should be classified as employees.
It will also examine employers’ tax treatment of visa holders including the appropriate registration, lodgement, reporting and payment obligations for PAYG withholding, fringe benefits tax and super guarantee.
The JobKeeper focus of the visa data-matching program follows other similar programs that have been established to ensure compliance with a range of COVID-19 stimulus measures.
A notable example includes Services Australia trading data with the ATO to ensure individuals are not incorrectly claiming both JobKeeper and social security payments at the same time.
The ATO has also acquired data of 3 million individuals from Services Australia to identify eligibility for the early release of super and the cash flow boost measure.
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.