Request for date application to IRD signed

Contrary to an enactment
Legislation:
Official Information Act 1982
Related legislation:
Tax Administration Act
Legislation display text:
Official Information Act 1982, s 18(c)(i), Tax Administration Act 1994, s 81
Agency:
Inland Revenue Department
Ombudsman:
Hon Anand Satyanand
Case number(s):
W42638
Issue date:
Language:
English

Request for date application to Inland Revenue Department signed—no exception to duty to maintain secrecy

In this case the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) refused to provide a requester with the date his former wife originally applied to have his income assessed for family support. In this regard, the requester clarified when making his request that he was not seeking the date on which the application was received by the IRD. Rather, he was seeking the date on which his ex-wife signed the application as containing information which ‘to the best of [her] knowledge …is true and correct’. The IRD refused to supply this information pursuant to section 18(c)(i) of the OIA on the basis that disclosure of the information would be contrary to section 81(1)(a) of the Tax Administration Act 1994.

Section 81(1) of the Tax Administration Act provides that every officer of the IRD shall maintain secrecy of all matters in relation to all Acts administered by the IRD. However, section 81(4)(l) of this Act establishes an exception to this duty of secrecy by allowing for information to be given to the person ‘in relation to whom’ it was obtained.

Because the information at issue was not the date from which the requester’s assessment for child support commenced, the IRD’s submission that the information requested was not obtained ‘in relation to’ the requester pursuant to section 81(4)(l) of the Tax Administration Act was accepted. Given the exception established by section 81(4)(l) did not apply, the duty to maintain secrecy established by section 81(1) remained.

In these circumstances it would be contrary to the provisions of the Tax Administration Act to make the information available. Accordingly, the IRD’s original decision to withhold the information at issue pursuant to section 18(c)(i) of the OIA was upheld.

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

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