Centrelink program data matching activities

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

Data matching

Matching data is a key way we identify possible fraud and non-compliance. When we match data we compare information we get from an outside source with our own.

We are legally authorised to match data and we tell you about our activities in our Privacy Policy. We deal with all personal information we hold in accordance with:

  • Privacy Act 1988
  • relevant secrecy provisions in program legislation

We work closely 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 does not involve matching Tax File Numbers (TFNs).

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

  • 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 complaints and feedback. If you aren’t happy with how we’ve handled your privacy concerns you can contact the OAIC.

Our protocols

Our data matching protocols were made with the OAIC and meet the Data Matching Guidelines:

Non-Employment Income Data Matching (NEIDM)

The NEIDM measure was developed in 2016 to better address a compliance risk which is only partly dealt with by our PAYG data matching activity. In particular, the NEIDM measure allows us to data match on non-employment related income reported to the ATO. This may include income received by independent contractors or income obtained through investments.

As with PAYG data matching, we conduct NEIDM in accordance with the Data Matching Guidelines. We developed our program protocol for the NEIDM measure in August 2016, in consultation with OAIC.

The Data matching Program (DMP)

In 1991, we began data matching activities which involved the matching of TFNs under the Data matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 (DMP Act). Our activities were conducted in accordance with the DMP Act, and the Data Matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 Guidelines (statutory data matching guidelines) issued under the DMP Act.

Read the DMP Act and the statutory data matching guidelines on the Federal register of legislation website.

Read historical reports of our data matching program.

Tax Refund Garnishee

Our Tax Garnishee Program Protocol gives details of data matching for people who have outstanding debts. We data match in line with the Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration. The OAIC issues these guidelines. Our data matching doesn’t involve matching TFNs.

We data match with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). We can ask them to tell us if you:

  • will get a tax refund
  • have credit available to you.

If we decide to garnish your money from the ATO we’ll send you a Recovery of your Centrelink Debt letter.

Page last updated: 16 October 2018