The Australian Taxation Office is set to target visa holders in a massive investigation into fraud and tax infringements.
The details of around one million temporary international workers will be analysed to pinpoint potential fraud amongst the holders of 27 different types of visa.
“Records relating to approximately 1,000,000 individuals who were granted visas under the above subclasses will be matched,” the ATO said in a government gazette notice.
“The ATO may also provide information to assist the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to maintain the integrity of the student and temporary working visa programmes. The ATO is legally able to provide this information.”
Tax authorities are collecting the names and addresses and other details of visa holders on a range of permits including the the 457 visa, the working holiday visa and the various student visas.
Other visa classes being targeted include the entertainment visa (Subclass 420), sport visa (Subclass 421) and the temporary medical practitioner visa.
The ATO will collect the data for the period starting January 1, 2012 to June 30, 2014 from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). This will then be electronically matched with certain sections of ATO data holdings.
The ATO have called the drive the ‘Department of Immigration and Citizenship Temporary Working Visas Data Matching Programme’.
The ATO wants to improve intelligence on the level of tax compliance by employers and visa holders. They claim it will “improve existing risk detection models”, “identify potentially new or widespread refund fraud methodologies” and allow them to “take steps to mitigate threats of non-compliance and fraud”.
The ATO also expect the programme to allow them to implement strategies that will “address the identified risks posed by temporary working visa holders and employer sponsors”.
The data trawl will include information about migration agents, the education institute where the person plans to study and details on all international travel movements by the visa holder.
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister O’Connor told the Irish Echo that people on 457 visas are not being specifically targeted and that everyone on a temporary visa will be looked at.
“It’s about ensuring people who are here are working the hours they are supposed to be working and paying the appropriate levels of tax,” she said.
On the issue of DIAC supplying the ATO with information on temporary workers she explained that “it is normal for government departments and agencies to work together”.