Revenue Minister Stuart Nash and Customs Minister Kris Faafoi are encouraging feedback on a proposal to extend an information sharing agreement designed to crack down on organised crime.
Since 2014 Inland Revenue and Police have worked together under the Serious Crimes Information Sharing Agreement where they have reasonable grounds to suspect a serious offence is being committed. The government proposes extending that agreement to include the Customs Service and the Serious Fraud Office.
“Police and tax authorities work together well when they suspect a serious crime, punishable by a prison term of four years or more, is being committed. We have released a discussion document calling for public submissions on the proposal to include two more agencies under the same framework,” Mr Nash says.
“Under the proposal, the one-way flow of information from the IRD would be extended to the SFO and Customs. Information could be requested from IRD or proactively provided if there are reasonable grounds to suspect a serious offence may be or has been committed.
“Inland Revenue is usually prevented from revealing details of individual taxpayers. However the Privacy Act makes an exception to the general secrecy rule if there is an approved information sharing agreement, or AISA,” Mr Nash says.
Mr Faafoi says an extension to the existing AISA would make it easier for the Customs Service to investigate and track unlawful imports and transactions.
“The IRD could for example share information from tax audits which show significant amounts of money flowing through a bank account which are not related to core business activities. Further investigation by Customs could reveal potential smuggling of drugs or other contraband across our borders,” Mr Faafoi says.
“Government agencies need to work more closely together to disrupt and prevent illicit cross-border activity that not only evades taxes but also leads to harm in our communities,” Mr Faafoi says.
Submissions are open till 30 October 2018. The discussion document is available at www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz.