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TPB commences consultation on draft guidance about use of TFNs in emails

1 September 2020

TPB commences consultation on draft guidance about use of TFNs in emails 

Following discussion at recent Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) Consultative and Tax (financial) adviser Forums, members requested for a Practice Note (PN) that provides tax practitioners with guidance on the appropriate use and disclosure of client tax file numbers (TFNs) and TFN information in email communications.

The purpose of the draft PN is to provide practical guidance and assistance to registered tax practitioners to understand their obligations under the Code of Professional Conduct in the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (the Code) when using and disclosing TFNs and TFN information in email communications. The draft PN also sets out suggested steps that the TPB would expect registered tax practitioners to consider and to assist with compliance with the Code, particularly the obligation to maintain client confidentiality under Code Item 6. 

While the TPB does not administer any specific legislation relating to the use and disclosure of TFNs, it has previously published general information on the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme to raise awareness of considerations and where to find further guidance on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.  

Recent statistics from the OAIC show the risks involved when using email for the transmission of personal information (which includes TFN information). The OAIC’s Notifiable Data Breaches Report for January-June 2020 reported that 17% of data breaches involved TFNs, 34% of data breaches were due to human error, and the top five industry sectors for human error included accounting and management services

In developing the draft PN, the TPB initially consulted with a limited group of key stakeholders. The draft PN is now available for consultation. The TPB invites comments from tax practitioners and other interested stakeholders to be sent to tpbsubmissions [at] tpb.gov.au by 30 September 2020.  

Last modified: 1 September 2020