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Cross-government information sharing

To what extent should Inland Revenue increase information sharing with other government agencies?

Given the current desire for greater sharing of information between government agencies it is worth considering how the Tax Administration Act might be amended to support information sharing.   The Tax Administration Act already contains a cross-government information sharing provision.  This provision allows information sharing agreements to be authorised by Order in Council where the receiving agency is entitled to collect the information itself but it is more efficient to obtain the information from Inland Revenue.   Consideration could be given to greater use of this provision, or amending the criteria to better enable its use in a wider range of circumstances.


Information shared between agencies should be used in a way that is to honest peoples advantage - for example to detect errors in IRDs records - and not just with a mentality of detecting "offenders". It should be used transparently, consistently, competently, and fairly. We have experience problems with the “spying at the border” legislation regarding a student loan borrower who did not know his loan was still outstanding. Successful detection at the border would have been to his advantage because IRD would have notified him that the loan was outstanding (interest obligations had changed) but data matching was only used 5 years later when the loan was settled to cynically apply interest retrospectively. It was claimed that matching was unsuccessful the first time because of a slight misspelling of the middle name (unlikely!) but this misspelling did not prove a problem later because information on his file made them suspicious he was overseas (why did they not look earlier when his agent filed zero tax returns!) Further it is not clear if IRD can data match at the border if the borrower is not under suspicion, which could be subject to abuse because he had a foreign name, and we believe the same rules should apply to everyone. However successful data matching by WINZ immediately after departure to get the borrowers NZ contact address from IRD did not count as notification of being overseas so again matching was only used against the borrowers interest and when a parent contacted IRD concerned that perhaps there should have been loan mail this concern was disregarded because of the Privacy Act when in fact the Commissioner is obliged to act on information which affects the loan obligation and so the Privacy Act was also used against his interests! (Under legislation a person going overseas who does not know they have a loan outstanding only needs to give a NZ contact address or a NZ tax agent – the borrower did both but loan mail had been going to the wrong tax agent due to a linking error). For 5 years he was in default on his loan and there were no attempts to contact him at his notified NZ contact address or through his genuine tax agent who was doing his tax returns.

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8 months ago
Graham Brown
I think the governing criteria here is " where the receiving agency is entitled to collect the information itself " if this is the case then it is reasonable that the IRD share the information. However there needs to be stringent protections in place to protect the individual and accountability if an error is made in the process. there needs to be recourse for the individual which is not excluded by cost. Furthermore the information must be non partisan and only that revealed which suits a particular outcome. The individual shall be notified of what was released and to whom.

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7 months ago
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