ATO Motor vehicle data matching program extended

The ATO has extended the motor vehicles data matching program once again to encompass the 2022-23 to 2024-25 financial years. This successful program has been running for 19 years in various iterations, and was developed as a way to assess the overall tax compliance of individuals and businesses involved in buying and selling motor vehicles.

Information from all eight of the State and Territory motor registries regarding where a vehicle was transferred or newly registered during applicable financial years where the purchase price or market value is equal to or greater than $10,000, will be acquired. It is estimated that records relating to approximately 1.5m individuals will be obtained each financial year.

The data obtained will consist of:

  • identification details – names, addresses, phone numbers, date of birth, ABN, ACN, whether the seller is a licenced dealer, fleet manager, or leasing company (or representative), and the registering person for an unincorporated body.
  • transaction details – date of transaction, type of transaction, sale price of vehicle, market value of vehicle, vehicle garage address, type of intended vehicle use, vehicle make/model/body type/year of manufacture, engine capacity, tare weight, gross weight, VIN, registration number, transaction receipt number, stamp duty exemption and reason, dealer licence number (if applicable).

While the program is being used to obtain intelligence about taxpayers that buy and sell motor vehicles to identify risks and trends of non-compliance with various tax and super obligations, the ATO will also be using the data obtained as an indicator of risk. For example, the data, along with other data holdings will be used to identify taxpayers who have purchased vehicles with values that do not align with the income they have reported.

In addition, the data will also be used to identify cases for investigation where interposed proxy ownership through other taxpayers such as sellers, licenced dealers, fleet managers, leasing companies or representatives of these taxpayers is used to conceal the real accumulation of wealth. Other more mundane uses of the data will include the identification of taxpayers who may have not met their obligations in terms of GST, FBT, luxury car tax, fuel schemes and income tax.

The collection of data under the previous motor vehicles program of the 2016-17 to 2018-19 financial years was conducted between May 2018 and January 2020, and an exemption was granted by the Privacy Commissioner to retain that data for 3 years. The data to be obtained in the current program (ie the 2022-23 to 2024-25 financial years) will be retained for 5 years from the receipt of the final instalment and used in multiple risk models, including models that establish retrospective profiles over multiple years.

According to the ATO, the data is used in conjunction with other data sources in its risk detection models and profiling tools to generate compliance actions for review. In cases where taxpayers identified from the data matching program fail to meet their obligations in terms of tax, super, FBT, GST, etc even after being prompted and reminded, referrals to relevant areas for appropriate treatment and escalation for prosecution action may be initiated in some circumstances.

This article is for general information only. It does not make recommendations nor does it provide advice to address your personal circumstances. To make an informed decision, always contact a registered tax professional.

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