Centrelink data matching activities

Matching data is one of the key controls we use to manage the risk of fraud and non-compliance.

Data matching

In 1991, we began matching Tax File Numbers (TFNs). We did this under the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990.

You can also find more information in our data matching program historical reports.

How we do it

When we match data, we compare information we get from an outside source with our own.
Legally, we’re authorised to match data. We tell you about our activities in our Privacy Policy. All personal information we deal with aligns with the:

  • Privacy Act 1988
  • relevant secrecy provisions in program legislation.

We work with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). This ensures our systems and practices for matching data are appropriate.

We also meet OAIC Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration. We use these guidelines when we match data that doesn't involve matching Tax File Numbers (TFNs).

The role of the OAIC is to protect your privacy. They can look into:

  • complaints about the program
  • abuse of a person's privacy.

There are heavy penalties if we misuse your information.

If you have concerns about your personal information, contact our complaints and feedback line. If you aren’t happy with how we’ve handled your privacy concerns you can contact the OAIC.

Our protocols

We wrote our data matching protocols with the OAIC to meet their data matching guidelines:

Non-employment income data matching (NEIDM)

We developed the NEIDM measure in 2016. It is to address a compliance risk partly dealt with by our PAYG data matching activity.

The NEIDM measure allows us to data match with the ATO on non-employment related income. This may include income:

  • earned by independent contractors
  • obtained through investments.

Tax refund garnishee

Our tax garnishee program protocol gives details of data matching for people who have outstanding debts.

We can ask the ATO to withhold or garnishee some or all of your tax refund. The program aims to help you pay your Centrelink debt.

To do this the ATO advises us when there is:

  • an entitlement to a tax refund
  • available credit from your tax refund.

If we garnish your money from the ATO we’ll send you a letter about how we recover money you owe.

Page last updated: 2 April 2019