META news: Tax scrutiny for visa holders – ensuring compliance for your assignees

Did you know that your assignees are now subject to further scrutiny from the ATO?


There are growing concerns that non-compliance by international assignees lead to organisations being compromised in their ability to sponsor working visas. For a while now we have been talking to our clients about the need for their international assignees to be tax compliant while they are in Australia on assignment.

After a number of highly successful data-matching programs in a variety of industries, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has now joined forces with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) in an attempt to clamp down on working visa holders who are not lodging returns or not paying appropriate tax in Australia.

In the Commonwealth Gazette Notice C2015G01255, published on 4 August 2015, the ATO has announced a data-matching program that will cover four financial years (from 2014 to 2017).

The ATO intends to obtain the following information from DIBP:

  • Address history and contact history for visa applicants and sponsors;
  • All visa grants;
  • Visa grant status by point in time;
  • Migration agents (visa application preparer who assisted or facilitated the processing of the visa);
  • Address history and contact history for migration agents;
  • All international travel movements undertaken by visa holders (arrivals and departures)
  • Sponsor details (457 visa);
  • Education providers (where the student visa holder intends to undertake their study); and
  • Visa subclass name.

The information gathered aims to identify non-compliance with registration, lodgement, reporting and payment obligations under taxation laws. In particular, the ATO seeks to achieve the following:

  • Improve intelligence on the overall level of tax compliance from visa holders, sponsors, migration agents;
  • Test and improve the ATO's risk detection models and treatment systems;
  • Cancel ineligible registrants on the Australian Business Register;
  • Identify fraud methodologies and the entities controlling or exploiting those methodologies
  • Improve voluntary compliance by visa holders, sponsors, and migration agents; and
  • Ensure compliance with registration, lodgement, correct reporting and payment of taxation and superannuation obligations.

It is estimated that records relating to approximately a million individuals will be obtained as part of this program.

If you are a visa holder or have employees who are visa holders, your records could be part of the million that will be reviewed by the ATO.

Global mobility is on the increase and becoming more complex to manage in-house. We are here to help reduce the complexity. Our strength lies in helping you and your assignees comply with Australian tax laws. Please contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss how we can provide an efficient and cost effective solution to your business.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Sam Morris.