Tax authorities to cross-check immigration data

5 Aug 15

AUSTRALIA

IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will soon begin collecting names, addresses and other information from visa holders, sponsors and migration agents, as the Australian Government looks to root out both tax and immigration fraud. Data will be collected from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for the 2013-14 through 2016-17 financial years.

What does the change mean? The ATO will compare information submitted for tax purposes to information submitted for visa purposes. Companies sponsoring subclass 457 visa holders are advised to ensure they are paying the ‘guaranteed earnings’ as noted in the 457 visa approval, along with the correct superannuation payments (where applicable).

  • Implementation time frame: Data collection will begin in September and will occur quarterly in ensuing financial years.
  • Visas/permits affected:All visas.
  • Who is affected:Visa holders, sponsors and migration agents. The Government estimates that data relating to more than 1 million people will be collected..
  • Business impact:Businesses sponsoring foreign nationals on Australian visas should make sure information on application forms is accurate and that they subsequently meet all pay and other requirements. If tax and visa information does not match, businesses are more likely to draw the scrutiny of authorities.
  • Next steps: BAL will continue to monitor the Australian Government’s data-matching programme and will update clients accordingly.

Background: Notification of the data-matching programme was published in the Commonwealth government notices gazette this week. The stated purpose of the programme is to “ensure that taxpayers are correctly meeting their taxation obligations” including “registration, lodgment, reporting and payment responsibilities.”

similar programme was launched in 2011, and the Government said data collected in the three-year period beginning 1 July of that year indicate an “elevated level of risk” of tax problems among visa holders. Data to be collected under the new programme will include address history for visa applicants and sponsors; contact history for visa applicants and sponsors; all visa grants; names, contact information and address history of migration agents; all international travel undertaken by visa holders; subclass 457 sponsor details; and education providers for those on student visas.

BAL Analysis: The data-matching programme is consistent with the Australian Government’s efforts in recent years and months to crack down on both tax and visa abuse. The Government implemented a similar programme in 2011, and in March announced its support for increased sharing of information between the ATO and DIPB in the subclass 457 visa programme. Companies should ensure they are paying the ‘guaranteed earnings’ required under the 457 programme, and should be careful that information on future visa applications is accurate. Contact your BAL migration agent with any questions about staying in compliance.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@balglobal.com.

MARN: 9683856

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