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DATE OF ISSUE:5 July 1991



The purpose of this instruction is to advise of the implementation of the Tax File Number Collection System.  The system, which will be installed for the Tax File Number(TFN) collection exercise, will enable us to monitor responses to a letter being sent to pensioners which requests them to inform the Department of their TFN.  Pensioners will be gradually contacted over the next 12 months, following the initial mail-out of 50,000 requests early in June 1991.  The letters will be printed at the NCC and distributed by Security Mailing Services of Kingsgrove.  The collection and registration of all TFN's will be handled by a team located in the NSW Branch Office.


2.TFNs are being collected to facilitate forthcoming data-matching exercises being run by DSS in conjunction with ATO, DVA, DEET, and DHH&CS.  Data-matching is an initiative announced by the Treasurer in the 1990 Budget and involves the comparison of pensioner records across the above-mentioned agencies to detect instances of overpayments or dual payments resulting from pensioners who fail to notify the Department of changes, or from false or misleading statements made by pensioners about their income or personal details.

Aims and Objectives

3.The aims and objectives of the TFN collection project are as follows:

*To obtain from appropriate pensioners and spouses, a  statement of their TFN.

*To ensure the exercise is conducted in accordance with the  guidelines for the handling and storage of TFNs issued by  the Privacy Commissioner.

*To advise pensioners of the legal basis for collection and  of the possible consequences of failure to inform the  Department of their TFN.

*To monitor by CMS reporting, the response of pensioners to  the request so that manual action can then be taken to  obtain TFNs which have not been provided as required.

*To conduct the exercise in such a way as to minimise the  impact on Branch Office staff and workload.

Overall Implementation Strategy

4.The TFN system will be implemented in 2 phases, with the first phase commencing in June 1991.  Phase 1 will allow users to finalise cases by entering the TFN in the appropriate field.  It will also be possible to move cases from stage to stage via existing CMS facilities.

5.Phase 2, which will be implemented on 5 August 1991, will add the screens necessary to withdraw a case and to inquire about, add or change a TFN.  A registration screen and an additional stage, which is to be used for pensioners who are temporarily unable to reply to the request for their TFN (e.g.pensioners who are in hospital or are travelling), will be implemented prior to Phase 2.  It is expected that many pensioners will volunteer a TFN to the Department before being requested to do so.

6.The staggered approach to the mail-out takes into account the rate at which NSW Branch Office will be able to process the responses and the rate at which the ATO can process the large overall number of TFN applications/enquiries which the exercise will generate.  Due to the staggered data collection, DVA's involvement in the data-matching exercises will also be staggered (only the pensioners who have had their TFN data collected will be involved in each matching cycle), therefore the flow to Pension Review Teams and Overpayment Management Units of cases highlighted for investigation, can be kept at a manageable level.

The TFN Team

7.A team has been set up in the NSW Branch office to field all incoming enquiries and conduct the data collection for all States.  The toll-free phone number for inter-state callers is 008 225522 and for Sydney metropolitan callers 2810666.  These phone numbers are not connected to the NSW switchboard.  Attachment A outlines the procedures for both the TFN team and the Branch Offices (Review teams and VAAS).

Communication with Pensioners

8.A separate post office box has been opened exclusively for responses to the TFN exercise.  The purpose of this box is to protect the privacy of pensioners' TFNs, and to streamline the processing of responses.

9.Standard letters will be developed by Central Office for the following circumstances:

.second requests made by the TFN team; and

.suspensions and cancellations by the Branches.

Once these letters have been approved they will be forwarded to the TFN team and Branches.

Manual Action

10.It is expected that the vast majority of pensioners will provide a TFN or complete an application/enquiry form when first required to do so.  However, there will be exceptions to this which will require manual action.  For example, a second request must be sent if a pensioner has not responded within 28 days from the date of request.  Further information on exceptional cases and examples of the form letters which will used can be found in the attached procedure manual.

Further Information

11.Detailed procedures for Branch Offices are attached to this instruction.  If you have any questions regarding any aspect of the TFN collection, you should contact the TFN Project Manager, John Fely, on (06) 289 6437.





1.The TFN request letter, will be printed at the NCC and enveloped and mailed by Security Mailing Services of Kingsgrove.  The job run which produces the letter will also AUTOMATICALLY register the action on the Benefits Claims Management system.

2.The tax file number collection exercise will be staggered over a period of approximately 12 months with the initial mail-out of 50,000 requests in the first week of June 1991, followed by further mail-outs of 30,000 requests every 4 weeks, workload permitting, until all persons required to provide a TFN have complied.  In a mail-out of 30,000 letters the number of clients likely to be contacted in each State will be as follows:

NSW-              9,000

VIC -              7,500

QLD-              6,000

SA-              3,000

WA-              3,000

TAS-              1,500


The NSW Team

3.The work of the NSW based TFN team will commence when pensioners respond to the mail-out (by phone or mail).  With privacy considerations in mind, a separate postbox has been set up for responses to the TFN request.  Mail sent to this postbox will be delivered to the TFN team in a locked bag, the key to which will be held by the team leader.  Invoices which arrive with this locked bag should be forwarded to the TFN Project Manager, Income Support Branch, Central Office.

4.The responses will be opened by the TFN team and stored in a locked cabinet in file number order, in 3 separate batches: TFN registration forms, application/enquiry forms, and miscellaneous replies.  This will ensure the security of TFNs and enable easy prior checking in cases where reports show further action may be required.

5.Most action will require only two screens to be accessed: the Benefit Claims Management - Stage Complete screen (BC.SC), and the Tax File Number Processing - Case Finalisation screen (TN.CF).  However, when Phase 2 of the system is implemented, staff will be able to withdraw, inquire about, add and change a TFN.

Note:In all cases, the action number (as it appears on the returned form) should be entered to avoid accidentally recording spouse's TFN for a veteran and vice versa.

6.The main responses are underlined below with the appropriate action set out under each heading (Flow charts of these actions are at Attachments B-E):


If the TFN is valid, legible and the form is signed:

.Access TN.CF screen;

.Enter TFN;

.No further action required.

If not, refer to C.


If it is legible and has been signed:

.Access BC.SC screen;

.Enter your mark-out in Next Action Officer field;

.Select Awaiting Allocation stage (this will end TFN  Requested stage and start Awaiting Allocation stage from the  date you have selected).

If not, refer to C.

Application/Enquiry forms must be forwarded to ATO after they have been registered on the system.  The forms should be sorted in postcode order and forwarded to each ATO Regional Office once a week.  ATO will allocate TFNs and send them direct to the NCC on computer tape.


.Access BC.SC screen

.Enter your mark-out in Next Action Officer field

.Select Referred Back To Client stage

.Send letter (to be provided by Central Office)


For supervisor only.

.Access BC.SC screen,

.Enter your mark-out in Next Action Officer field,

.Select Suspend stage,

.Forward to relevant Branch Office for action (do not forward to the B.O.  until 28 days has passed since the request is  up as the pensioner may change his/her mind and comply  within 28 days),

.Manually record case.


.Take action appropriate for registration or app/enq form,

.Refer other correspondence to the appropriate Branch Office (delete TFN if it appears other than on registration form).

NB:Some clients may write asking for a waiver of the  requirement to provide their spouse's TFN where  circumstances make it difficult for them to do so.  These cases should be referred to the team delegate who has the  authority to approve such requests.  Requests for exemptions should be referred to the team leader.  Exemptions are  listed at Paragraph 6 below.  Exemptions granted cannot be registered until Phase 2 is implemented and the TN.CW screen  is available.


Check History, if 1st request and the address are different on the CDB:

.Access BC.SC screen;

.Select TFN Requested stage;

.Forward mail to new address.

If 1st request and address are different:

.Access BC.SC screen;

.Enter your mark-out in Next Action Officer field;

.Select Unable To Contact stage.

If 2nd request, forward to the relevant Branch Office for investigation.

NB: A register of re-addressed letters, which includes the new address, should be kept and checked before any second requests are sent.  This will prevent them being sent to the original and incorrect address.  The appropriate officer should be notified that an incorrect address is held on the Client Data Base.

Branch Offices

7.Branch Offices will be responsible for the following actions:

.investigating unclaimed correspondence; and

.suspending/cancelling pensions as required/directed.

Unclaimed Correspondence

8.When a letter returns unclaimed the TFN team will investigate it as above.  If it is forwarded to the Branch, normal investigation will be undertaken before the pension is suspended.  Cases where pension has been suspended will be given a minimum of 14 days before cancellation action is commenced.


9.Cases will be forwarded to the Branches from the TFN team for suspension/ cancellation action.  Cases for suspension will be where the pensioner has not responded to two letters requesting their tax file number (the second with a warning that pension will be suspended).  Cases for cancellation are where the pensioner has refused to provide their tax file number, or as follow-up action to suspension due to unclaimed correspondence.

The Receipt of TFN Correspondence by the Branch

10.If, as a result of the TFN mail-out, pensioners come to the counter to give their TFN or Application/Enquiry form, it can be accepted.  However, if pensioners volunteer their TFN or Application/Enquiry form it can only be accepted if a TFN request letter has been given (stocks of these will be provided by early July 1991) to inform them of the purpose of the TFN collection, as required by the Privacy Act.

11.The TFN or the Application/Enquiry form is to be sealed in an envelope and then forwarded to the TFN team in NSW.  A stamp with the address of the TFN team in NSW has been sent to each Branch Office.

Phone Enquiries

12.Statistics are to be kept by the Branches on phone enquiries that directly relate to the mail-out.  The purpose is to determine the number of "overflow" calls that are being made due to the TFN team's phones being busy.  The areas that should keep statistics are those that will be effected, eg.  Compensation and Income Support review teams and VAAS.

Monitoring of Suspensions/Cancellations

13.Central Office will be monitoring the following:

.periods that cases are in the suspended stage; and

.the length of time cases have been suspended.


14.The following persons will not be required to provide a TFN and will not be contacted in the mail-out:

.Papua New Guinea nationals receiving a DP

.Spouses of persons receiving a War Widows' pension

.A non-payee spouse of a Veteran who is receiving DP only

.Persons receiving AMS payments

.Persons who are living overseas


15.In addition to the actions listed above, further action will be required based on information provided in CMS reports.  The BC.RC screen enables users to request reports which provide the specific information needed.  For example: all cases that have been in TFN Requested stage for more than 28 days, or all cases that have been in Second Request stage for more than 14 days.  After checking that the response is not sitting in the file of unprocessed responses, further action can be taken.


16.The following codes should be used when requesting reports for the TFN collection:

FIELD                  CODE

Classification number970


Stage numbers199 case finalised

899 case withdrawn

500 TFN requested

501 awaiting allocation

502 referred back to client

503 unable to contact

504 pension suspended

505 second request

NB: Care should be taken when acting on information provided in reports because it will only be possible to distinguish veteran from spouse by action number.


17.The reports which will be regularly required are underlined below with the action required set out under each heading:


.Check to see if a response has been received since report  was requested

.Update cases to Second Request stage

.Send pro forma attached at Appendix A


.Check to see if a response has been received since report  was requested

.Update cases to Pension Suspended stage

.Request report listing cases in Pension Suspended stage

.Refer to review team for suspension


.Check to see if a response has been received since report  was requested

.Update cases to Pension Suspended stage

.Request report listing cases in Pension Suspended stage

.Refer to review team for suspension


.Contact with ATO required to establish whether  application/enquiry form has been misplaced or not yet  processed

.If misplaced the client must be contacted again and the case updated to TFN Requested stage

.If it has been processed by ATO, the identification number  of the cartridge should be obtained and the NCC contacted to  establish if the tape has been received/processed