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12.3.2 Data Matching Program

What does data matching involve?

Data matching involves the comparison of pension records across the agencies, using personal details including the tax file number, to detect instances of overpayments or dual payments where a pensioner has:

  • failed to notify the Department of changes, or
  • made false or misleading statements with regard to their personal details or income.
Agencies involved in data matching

The data matching exercise involves matching client records held by the following agencies:

  • Department of Veterans' Affairs,
  • Centrelink, and
  • the Australian Taxation Office.
Use of tax file number in data matching

Matching between each agency and the Australian Taxation Office is based on the pensioner's personal details including the tax file number    

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Data Matching Agency

The Data Matching Agency was established under the Data-Matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990. It is within Centrelink and acts as an independent body performing all matching activities.

Data matching and privacy implications

Any data matching exercise must be conducted in accordance with the privacy provisions under the Data-Matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 and the Privacy Act 1988 and all aspects of the program are approved by the Privacy Commission. The Privacy Commission monitors the new data matching program measures to ensure that privacy safeguards are observed.     

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The eleven Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) are set out in full in Section 14 of the Privacy Act 1988. ComLaw's website:

Summary of the IPPs - DVA Intranet:


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A TFN is a number issued by the Australian Taxation Office to individuals, partnerships, trusts or companies. Each taxpayer has unique TFN which must be declared when you:

  • loge a tax return,
  • apply for certain income assistance or support payments,
  • make or receive payments under Prescribed or Reportable Payment System,
  • start or change jobs,
  • have savings accounts or investments that earn income, or
  • study at a tertiary institution under the HECS Scheme.

Centrelink is a Government service delivery agency responsible for delivering a range of Commonwealth Government services (including social security pensions and allowances) to the Australian community through a network of more than 400 Centrelink offices.