8.1.3.20 Providing TFN Information

Summary

This topic explains:

  • who needs to provide a TFN,
  • how to obtain a TFN, and
  • circumstances under which a person may be exempted from providing a TFN for another person such as a parent or partner (1.1.P.85).

TFN from applicants

TFNs may be requested from applicants who are in Australia (1.1.A.320) who:

  • make a claim for a social security payment, a CSHC or income-tested HCC, OR
  • receive a social security payment, or are the holder of a CSHC or income-tested HCC.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 75 Requesting tax file numbers

SSAct section 6A(1)-'income-tested'

TFN from other people

A TFN may also be requested from other people as outlined in the following table.

If the applicant is… Then the applicant may be requested to provide…
a member of a couple (1.1.M.120) whose partner is in Australia, their partner's TFN.
claiming or receiving a payment in relation to which the income of another person is required to be taken into account, and that other person is in Australia, the other person's TFN.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 75 Requesting tax file numbers

TFN information

Applicants cannot be compelled to provide a TFN but an applicant who does not comply with a request to provide a TFN may have their claim rejected or their payment/card cancelled. Applicants are generally requested to provide their TFN when claiming, if their TFN is not already held by DHS. To comply with a TFN request, an applicant MUST:

  • provide their TFN, OR
  • if they have forgotten their TFN or are awaiting a new TFN, then authorise the ATO to advise DHS of their TFN, OR
  • if they do not have a TFN, then:
    • apply to the ATO for a TFN, AND
    • authorise the ATO to advise DHS of their TFN or if the TFN application is refused or withdrawn.

DHS can assist applicants in obtaining a TFN. An applicant can give DHS a completed 'TFN Application or Enquiry Form' that DHS will forward to the ATO. Applicants are not obliged to produce any documentation to verify their TFN.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 75 Requesting tax file numbers, section 76 How request for tax file number is satisfied, section 77 Consequences of not giving tax file number

TFN exemptions

Applicants may be granted an exemption from providing TFN information in limited circumstances.

Exemptions CANNOT be given to anyone who has previously provided TFN information.

Where an exemption is given for a reason which is temporary in application a review should be set up to obtain the TFN at a later date.

Assessing requests for TFN exemption

The following factors must be considered when assessing a request for a TFN exemption:

  • the likelihood of the applicant having or needing to have a TFN for tax purposes either now or in the foreseeable future
  • whether there is a barrier to the applicant's compliance with the request for TFN information
  • whether there is a person such as a nominee (1.1.N.80) or family member who routinely looks after the applicant's financial and personal affairs and who might reasonably be expected to comply on the applicant's behalf
  • the Government's objective of minimising incorrect payments.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(14) For the purposes of this Act other than Part 2.11…

Type of Exemption Explanation
Partner or other person whose income is required to be taken into account is uncontactable

An applicant may be granted a TFN exemption where it can be demonstrated that the applicant cannot reasonably obtain the TFN or a statement of TFN information for the partner or other person at the time of claim, e.g. the partner is away for work or holidays, is in prison or seriously ill.

The applicant may be asked:

  • the reasons for the partner being uncontactable,
  • the regularity and ease of current contact,
  • the reason the partner would be unable to comply with a request within 28 days, and
  • the date by which it is expected that the partner could comply with the request.

A delegate can exempt an applicant from the requirement to provide a parent or partner's TFN for 28 days and review the exemption later, when compliance should be possible.

If an exemption is granted, the applicant is NOT penalised for non-compliance, and they continue to be paid under normal conditions.

Under 16 years old

Applicants under the age of 16 may be granted a TFN exemption. Such applicants are not generally required to provide TFN information in order to receive payments, but are required to provide their parents' TFN.

The exemption from supplying TFN information will normally apply to indigenous schooling payments, but may also apply in limited circumstances to other applicants. However, if an applicant provides TFN information, this should be recorded. A review must be recorded for a date prior to the applicant's sixteenth birthday to request TFN information.

Applicant aged 80 or over

An applicant aged 80 or over who does not have a TFN can be given a GROUP exemption.

Explanation: This was a Government commitment intended to minimise distress and confusion for existing older pensioners and a small number of older recipients of SpB and family allowance (now FTB) at the time that compulsory TFN provisions were introduced.

Exception: A person aged 80 and over claiming Age who does not have a TFN should explain how they have been supported since reaching age pension age.

Explanation: If an applicant has been employed they should have a TFN so they should be able to provide one.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(5A) to section 23(5D) Pension age

Natural disaster zone An applicant may be granted a TFN exemption where they reside in an officially declared disaster zone. DHS must consider whether the applicant is able to complete and lodge a TFN Application or Enquiry Form. When granting this exemption, a review should be set for a period when the applicant may reasonably be able to comply with a request for TFN information, normally 2-3 months after the date the exemption was granted.
Applicant is a disadvantaged homeless person

An applicant who is a disadvantaged homeless person can be given a GROUP exemption.

Explanation: This exemption was designed for socially disadvantaged applicants who do not have stable accommodation and are unlikely to have a TFN. It was set up for applicants whose addresses are major overnight accommodation facilities catering for the homeless. The intention is not to cause difficulty for applicants and/or staff of the facility by requesting a TFN.

Assistance must be provided over time in helping existing applicants comply with TFN requirements. New applicants must be assisted with compliance when they claim.

Explanation: New applicants can comply by signing the relevant part of the claim form authorising DHS to obtain a TFN for them or get the details of their existing TFN from the ATO.

Exception: An applicant in a refuge providing full-time accommodation, assistance and counselling services for women and youth and some men on a short-term, emergency basis are not included in this category.

Explanation: They will generally be able to complete an application for TFN within the 28 day period because of the relative stability of their accommodation and the assistance provided by the refuge.

Applicant is a pensioner with no income

Some applicants who are pensioners with no income may have been given an INDEFINITE exemption.

Explanation: This was a Government commitment applying to applicants who:

  • had received a pension for 10 or more years,
  • had had little or no income for the previous 3 years, and
  • were unlikely to receive greater income in the future.

If the applicant was married, their partner must also have been a pensioner with no income for this indefinite exemption to apply.

Person overseas

Non-resident applicants or applicants who are residing overseas at the time of claim may be granted a TFN exemption and may be exempted indefinitely. An applicant and their partner who are overseas cannot generally have payments stopped for failure to provide TFN information. These applicants are normally paid by CIS. If an applicant returns, or indicates an intention to return, a review should be conducted to request TFN information.
Applicant is a profoundly disabled person

An applicant who is profoundly disabled can be given a GROUP, INDEFINITE or TEMPORARY exemption.

Explanation: This exemption is a Government commitment to applicants who have difficulty complying with TFN requirements due to serious physical, mental or intellectual conditions.

Automatic exemption was given to applicants who were:

  • Age and DSP applicants who are the subject of a CP,
  • Age and DSP applicants who are blind, or
  • DSP applicants who have a recorded impairment rating of 41% or more, and who have earned income, including their partner's, of up to $20.00 per week at the time that compulsory TFN provisions were introduced.

In considering new claims and requests for exemptions, delegates cannot only consider the selection criteria used for the group exemption. They must satisfy themselves that the seriousness of the medical condition is a major barrier to the provision of TFN information, and there is no other person who routinely handles the applicant's affairs.

Example: A nominee family member.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(14) For the purposes of this Act other than Part 2.11…

Applicant is in a psychiatric institution or a nursing home

An applicant who is in a psychiatric institution or a nursing home can be given GROUP or INDEFINITE exemption.

Explanation: This exemption is designed for applicants who may have difficulty complying with a TFN request and/or who may be distressed by a request.

Group exemptions are granted for applicants who:

  • are current applicants and paid their entitlements through the group payments methods, or
  • have given their address as an institution or nursing home.

A new applicant or one not included in the group exemption can be exempted either on request or as they come to the notice of staff. This indefinite exemption is reviewed on discharge from the institution or change of address. Applicants in community-based accommodation can be included in this category.

Example: A half-way house is a type of community-based accommodation.

Retirement homes or villages (1.1.R.270) are NOT treated as nursing homes (1.1.N.140), but applicants in nursing home facilities within multi-functional institutions can be exempted.

Partner violent Applicants may be granted a TFN exemption including an indefinite exemption from providing TFN information for a partner, where it can be demonstrated that the applicant, children or dependants may be at risk of violence, or where other concerns for the health and safety of the applicant, children or dependants exist. These cases cannot be identified in advance and are determined on request. A request must be referred to a social worker or ISO for assistance to the applicant, and advice about requesting an exemption for the partner's TFN information.

This situation does NOT cover cases where there is merely a refusal on the part of the partner to provide the information and there are no violence or health concerns or an applicant is claiming or receiving payments in their own right.

Secretary's exemption Applicants may only be considered for a TFN exemption where they do not meet the existing criteria. This will only be granted in exceptional circumstances e.g. where the applicant is on the witness protection program and the applicant has not yet been issued a TFN for their new identity. The applicant must be asked to provide written documentation and/or evidence to support their claim.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 75 Requesting tax file numbers, section 76 How request for tax file number is satisfied, section 77 Consequences of not giving tax file number

Last reviewed: 2 July 2018