Tax return retention period

Rodney Malone made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Taxation Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Australian Taxation Office.

Rodney Malone

Dear Australian Taxation Office,
I would like to know the what information is being retained beyond the Agency specific record established by National archives of Australia( record authority 2011/00321676) class no 34557. Specifically I would like to know when a person fills and lodges a tax return, what information on that tax return form is retained beyond the period of 5 years( class no 34557). These include but not limited to
annual income ,address, phone numbers,spousal income,marital status.

In other words I seek to know how long is the information supplied on an individual tax return is retained for(Please clarify if indefinite retention applies). Please indicate if there are other class on same record authority or another that would govern its deletion whether in primary or secondary form-bothhard copy as well as electronic (eg in a database).

Further please clarify if class 34551 of the same document contains any of the above information.If not, a template of kind of data/info covered by class 34551.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

Rodney Malone

FOI, Australian Taxation Office

        Dear Mr Malone,
The ATO does not process FOI requests received via
Please send your FOI request direct to [1][ATO request email], or lodge via
paper form available at
Alternatively, you can contact the ATO on 13 28 69 and ask for Freedom of
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Ben Fairless left an annotation ()

The Information Commissioner has made a formal recommendation to the ATO to start processing to Freedom of Information requests made via Right to Know. More Information on this can be found here:

Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

My comment is an addition to the comments by Mr. Fairless. I also make a specific suggestion.

Although the Australian Taxation Office wrote to the applicant to say that the Office would not process the application, something did happen. The thing that happened was that 30 days after the date when the application was lodged, section 15AC(3) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) had the effect of making a "deemed decision" to refuse the request ... this is unless the Commissioner grants more time.

Because of the effect of the Act, I make the following suggestions to the applicant:
(1) Do not write to the Australian Taxation Office and complain that a decision on your request is "overdue". It is not. A deemed decision was made 30 days after you lodged the application.
(2) Instead, use this Right to Know page (or you can create a new request page) to write exactly the same request to the Australian Taxation Office. If you want to grumble, then you can always say (in the new request email) that you made the same request earlier on this-and-then date.

I make this suggestion because if you only write and complain that your request is "overdue", then after a delay, the Australian Taxation Office might (correctly) write back to you and say, "No it is not". Of course, the purpose of this would be to delay to process your request (because the office will now have suddenly a lot of requests) but it will still have the effect that you must lodge a new request. Therefore, you can lose nothing to use this Right to Know page to make a new request now! It will start the clock again.