Information sharing



RELEASE OF GENERAL INFORMATION

(Clause 117)

Summary of proposed amendment

The amendment will allow the Commissioner of Inland Revenue to release general information such as statistical data without needing to seek approval from the Minister of Finance. The current tests required to safeguard the privacy of taxpayers when releasing general information will remain but will be transferred from the Minister of Finance to the Commissioner. The proposed change is an administrative efficiency measure.

Application date

The amendment will come into force on the date of enactment.

Key features

  • New section 81(4)(j)(i) requires that the release must be in the public interest; and
  • New section 81(4)(j)(ii) ensures that the information being released does not identify any taxpayer;
  • New section 81(4)(j)(iii) refers back to the considerations in 81(1B)(b) which inform whether the release is reasonable.

Background

Under section 81(4)(j) of the Tax Administration Act 1994 the Commissioner may release general information which does not identify any taxpayer if the release is approved by the Minister of Finance.

The Minister must first be satisfied that the release is in the public interest, and that the information is readily available and can be communicated easily.

Under the proposed changes in the bill, the three tests currently contained in section 81(4)(j) will be maintained but will be transferred from the Minister to the Commissioner. The test for whether the information is readily available and can be communicated easily is replaced with a reference to five considerations already legislated in 81(1B)(b). These considerations look at the effects on integrity, compliance, the impact on individuals or businesses, the resources available and whether the information is already publicly available.

The reference to an “authorised person” will be removed as this will no longer be needed when the Commissioner is making the release.


ENFORCEMENT OF EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS

(Clause 117)

Summary of proposed amendment

A consequential amendment is being made to section 81 of the Tax Administration Act 1994 to allow Inland Revenue to share information with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and with WorkSafe. The amendment will allow information to be shared for the enforcement of employment standards. This amendment is a consequence of the changes to workplace legislation due to be introduced this year.

Application date

The amendment will apply from the date of enactment.

Key features

Following the amendment Inland Revenue will share information with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and WorkSafe to facilitate and place greater emphasis on the enforcement of employment standards. Inland Revenue records should enable inspectors to identify and proceed against a breach.

In respect of health and safety breaches Inland Revenue records will assist WorkSafe in identifying relevant entities and employer/employee relationships to assist it with enforcement.

Background

Wage and time records are a key tool which enables labour inspectors to investigate possible breaches of employment standards assisting with targeting non-compliance and investigating cases. Sometimes wage and time records are absent, inaccurate or falsified.

Following the amendment Inland Revenue records will support the goal of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, in the Employment Standards Bill, to facilitate the enforcement of employment standards. Inland Revenue records should enable labour inspectors to identify and proceed against a breach. The Employment Standards Bill is due to be introduced this year.

Where health and safety breaches are concerned, the aim is narrower. Inland Revenue records will assist WorkSafe in identifying relevant entities and employer/employee relationships to assist it with enforcement.

Under section 81(1), Inland Revenue officers must maintain secrecy. Currently there is no specific exception in section 81(4) to allow the sharing of entity information for the purposes of enforcing employment standards.


SHARING BIOMETRIC INFORMATION

(Clause 117)

Summary of proposed amendment

An amendment to section 81 of the Tax Administration Act 1994 is proposed to allow Inland Revenue to share biometric information with the Ministry of Social Development. This will allow research to be undertaken to determine whether Inland Revenue’s biometric information can be used to identify and verify callers to the Ministry.

Application date

The amendment will apply from the date of enactment.

Key features

An amendment is proposed to section 81(4), to allow for the sharing of information with the Ministry of Social Development which would allow for the verification and identification of callers to the Ministry.

Background

Approximately 1.3 million taxpayers have registered to use their voiceprint to validate their identity when they contact Inland Revenue. The technology is voice biometrics. Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development are looking at a pilot where the Ministry will also use this service and access Inland Revenue’s bank of voiceprints.

When a caller rings the Ministry of Social Development, if they are registered for biometric validation and agree, the Ministry’s systems will sample their voice, send it to Inland Revenue, and Inland Revenue will return a “confidence level” based on how well the voice matches. This is an information matching exercise. The Ministry of Social Development, taking that confidence level into consideration, will then decide whether further checks are needed before they continue with the call.

Under section 81(1), Inland Revenue officers must maintain secrecy. In order to undertake the match, an amendment to section 81 is necessary to enable Inland Revenue to share the voiceprint information as the existing exemptions do not cover this use.