23 August 2014


The 64 page 'Feasibility Study of Linking Migrant Settlement Records to Personal Income Tax Data' [PDF] by Laura Walsh and Anne Weckert of the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that
 In 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics was provided with access to the Australian Taxation Office’s Personal Income Tax unit record data to assess the feasibility of linking records from the Australian Government’s Settlement Database to the Personal Income Tax unit record data. The study concluded that linking was feasible, provided name and address information could be used as linking variables, and that the linked dataset could provide useful information that no other data source could provide. This paper provides background to the feasibility study, a brief description of the linking strategy and process, and an assessment of the quality of the linking. The potential benefits of future linking projects are also discussed.
The authors comment that -
The results of this study are based, in part, on tax data supplied by the ATO to the ABS under the Taxation Administration Act 1953, which requires that such data is only used for the purpose of administering the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the data for statistical integration purposes, and is not related to the ability of the data to support the ATO's core operational requirements.
The confidentiality of data is protected by legislation. The Census and Statistics Act 1905 and the Privacy Act 1988 require that all information collected by the ABS remain confidential. Both these Acts ensure that data submitted to, or collected by, the ABS are not provided to anyone where those data can be used to identify an individual. All ABS staff, including temporary employees, are legally bound never to release personal information to any individual or organisation outside the ABS. In addition, comprehensive security arrangements are implemented in ABS computer systems.
They report
In 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducted a study to examine and assess the feasibility of linking unit record data from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Personal Income Tax records with the Australian Government’s Settlement Database (SDB).
This study was known as the Migrant Personal Income Tax (PIT) Data Integration (DI) project.
The Migrant PIT DI project was conducted with the aim of assessing the viability and quality of linking the SDB with the ATO PIT data.
The primary benefits of the project are:
1. Increasing the potential for use of administrative data sources such as the SDB and PIT data by the ABS for the purpose of statistical output;
2. Creating an enriched dataset for statistical and research purposes;
3. Possible new statistics on recent migrants able to be produced at a relatively low cost and without additional burden to providers (to inform policy debate, decision making and evaluation); and
4. Advancing the capability of the ABS as an Integrating Authority through demonstration of the feasibility and statistical value of linking of administrative data.
The first phase of the Migrant PIT DI project is the Migrant PIT Linkage Feasibility Study. The study linked the SDB to the PIT records using variables such as name, date of birth and address. Figures from the linked file were compared with other data sources with comparable data items published by the ABS to assess the quality of the links and the linkage rate. Relevant legislation and guidelines, including the Privacy Act 1988 and the High Level Principles for Data Integration Involving Commonwealth Data for Statistical and Research Purposes were adhered to, protecting the privacy of individuals on both datasets.
Around 70% (68.8% in 2009/10 and 69.0% in 2010/11) of records on the SDB considered to be ‘in-scope’ for the feasibility study linked to a record on the PIT file. Of the unlinked SDB records, it is likely that a high proportion of them are simply non-tax lodgers, and therefore a match to a PIT record is not expected. If it were possible to quantify this and exclude these records from the linkage process, hypothetically the linkage rate would have been much closer to 100%. The project demonstrated that linking the SDB to PIT is feasible and can provide useful information on the economic contribution of individuals who have migrated to Australia. The feasibility study also demonstrated that data linkage using a limited range of variables is possible.
The next step for this project is to conduct a statistical study and, following consultation with relevant stakeholders, it is hoped that this second phase of the project can be conducted in 2014.
This paper provides background to the Migrant PIT Linkage Feasibility Study, a brief description of the linking strategy and process, a discussion of the quality of the linking of the SDB records to the PIT records, provides recommendations for improvements to the linking, and explores potential for an analysis dataset.