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Commercial information

What types of commercial information might need to be subject to additional protections?

Inland Revenue is perhaps unique in the breadth and quantity of information it collects and holds.  This is particularly so in relation to commercial information, much of which can be very sensitive.  For example, taxpayers may provide highly sensitive commercial information in order to obtain an advance ruling on the tax implications of a major transaction.  This could, for example, be an as yet commercially confidential future transaction such as a takeover or restructure, or a complex financing transaction, or an advance pricing agreement.  Equally the audit and disputes processes can result in Inland Revenue obtaining very sensitive commercial information.

On the other hand, Inland Revenue also holds a wealth of information, including basic data and statistics about non-individual taxpayers that might be of use in the wider government context without prejudicing the commercial position of the taxpayer or taxpayers to whom it relates.

It is important to find an appropriate dividing line to balance the sharing of data, when that would aid the integrity of the tax system or lead to enhanced cross-government processes, and the need to ensure that businesses are not commercially prejudiced.


Graham Brown
Information which can assist government to make decisions which ultimately help the commercial sector can be of great advantage. If this information is released in the wrong format or in such a way that the particular organization can be identified then it must not be shared. One protection may be a sunset clause which says it can only be released when it is no longer topical or would have a deleterious effect on the organization concerned.

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