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number of MPs owning LTC's with tax losses related to residential properties owned by them

s devoy made this Official Information request to Inland Revenue Department

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From: s devoy

Dear Inland Revenue Department,

What is the number of MPs owning LTC's with tax losses related to residential properties owned by them ?

Yours faithfully,

s devoy

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From: oia
Inland Revenue Department

[IN CONFIDENCE RELEASE EXTERNAL]

Good morning

Thank you for your request made under the Official Information Act 1982. We will respond to your request within 20 working days from the date of receipt.

Kind regards,

Government & Executive Services

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From: oia
Inland Revenue Department


Attachment 19OIA1055 signed response Devoy.docx.pdf
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Good Afternoon S Devoy

Please find attached a response to your Official Information Act request, on behalf of Catherine Simpson, Manager, Government & Executive Services (Acting).

Kind Regards
Government & Executive Services

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From: s devoy

Dear oia,
I object to the reasons given for refusal of my request for the number of MPs owning LTCs with tax losses related to residential properties owned by them.
The reasons given were that... "as the information requested relates to the financial affairs of individual taxpayers, it is considered sensitive revenue information. Section 18 of the TAA states that sensitive revenue information can only be released if there is a permitted disclosure. There is no permitted disclosure.....I have decided to refuse your request under section 18(c)(i) of the OIA." (contrary to the provisions of a specified enactment).
However, the TAA, Section16C Key Terms, states:
"Meaning of sensitive revenue information
For the purposes of this subpart and schedule 7, sensitive revenue information—
(a) means revenue information that relates to the affairs of a person or entity—
• (i) that identifies, or is reasonably capable of being used to identify, the person or entity, whether directly or indirectly; or
• (ii) that might reasonably be regarded as private, commercially sensitive, or otherwise confidential; or
• (iii) the release of which could result in loss, harm, or prejudice to a person to whom or to which it relates: "
I contend that disclosing the number of MPs does not identify any individual person or entity, so cannot be defined as sensitive revenue information as defined in TAA Section 16C, and therefore that OIA Section 18(c)(i) does not apply,

Yours sincerely,

s devoy

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From: Commissioners Correspondence
Inland Revenue Department


Attachment Devoy response.pdf
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Dear S Devoy

 

On behalf of Tony Donoghue, Manager Commissioner’s correspondence, I
attach his response to your request to review Inland Revenue’s decision on
your information request received on 31 May 2019.

 

Kind regards

Anne Morrow

Commissioner’s correspondence helpdesk.

 

 

This email and any attachment may contain confidential information. If you
have received this email or any attachment in error, please delete the
email / attachment, and notify the sender. Please do not copy, disclose or
use the email, any attachment, or any information contained in them.
Consider the environment before deciding to print: avoid printing if you
can, or consider printing double-sided. Visit us online at ird.govt.nz

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From: s devoy

Dear Commissioners Correspondence,
[email address]
Dear Mr Donoghue
Thank you for your belated response to my complaint to the Ombudsman’s Office about IRD refusal of my information request, which I quote below.
“I object to the reasons given for refusal of my request for the number of MPs owning LTCs with tax losses related to residential properties owned by them.
The reasons given were that... as the information requested relates to the financial affairs of individual taxpayers, it is considered sensitive revenue information. Section 18 of the TAA states that sensitive revenue information can only be released if there is a permitted disclosure. There is no permitted disclosure.....I have decided to refuse your request under section 18(c)(i) of the OIA - contrary to the provisions of a specified enactment.( TAA Section 16C)
I contend that disclosing the number of MPs does not identify any individual person or entity, so cannot be defined as sensitive revenue information as defined in TAA Section 16C, and therefore that OIA Section 18(c)(i) does not apply,”
In your letter to me dated 3 February 2020 you refer to TAA Section 16C.
“The purpose of subpart 16 of the TAA is to provide the Commissioner with the necessary authority to protect the confidentiality of sensitive revenue information. Sensitive revenue information, as you have identified is defined in section 16C(3), as being information that relates to the affairs of a person or entity that might reasonably be regarded as private, commercially sensitive, or otherwise confidential…
Information disclosed in individuals tax returns is reasonably considered private, commercially sensitive and otherwise confidential, and its release could result in prejudice to the person whom it relates.”
I note that you are referring to 16C 3(a) (ii) and (iii), but not to 3(a) (i) and (b),
“Tax Administration Act- 16C Key terms
(3) Meaning of sensitive revenue information
For the purposes of this subpart and schedule 7, sensitive revenue information—
(a) means revenue information that relates to the affairs of a person or entity—
• (i) that identifies, or is reasonably capable of being used to identify, the person or entity, whether directly or indirectly; or
• (ii) that might reasonably be regarded as private, commercially sensitive, or otherwise confidential; or
• (iii) the release of which could result in loss, harm, or prejudice to a person to whom or to which it relates:
(b) does not include aggregate or statistical data that may contain information about the person or entity to the extent to which the information does not meet the requirements of paragraph (a).”
Are you able to give an example of how disclosing the number of MPs owning LTCs with tax losses related to residential properties owned by them might identify any individual MP?
Or even only disclosing the number of MPs owning LTCs?
Your letter also refers me to the MPs Register of Pecuniary Interests. The Register contains many personal financial details of each MP. The 2017 Standing Orders define the purpose of the Register …as being “to record members’ interests, thereby providing transparency and strengthening public trust and confidence in parliamentary processes and decision-making”. Might this involve assuring the public that MP do not have a “vested interest” -“a special interest in protecting or promoting that which is to one's own personal advantage.”?
Best wishes
S Devoy

Yours sincerely,

s devoy

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From: Commissioners Correspondence
Inland Revenue Department


Attachment Devoy March.pdf
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[IN CONFIDENCE RELEASE EXTERNAL]

Dear S Devoy

 

On behalf of my manager, Tony Donoghue, I attach his response to your
email of 26 February 2020.

 

Kind regards

Anne Morrow

Commissioner’s correspondence helpdesk

 

This email and any attachment may contain confidential information. If you
have received this email or any attachment in error, please delete the
email / attachment, and notify the sender. Please do not copy, disclose or
use the email, any attachment, or any information contained in them.
Consider the environment before deciding to print: avoid printing if you
can, or consider printing double-sided. Visit us online at ird.govt.nz

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J B left an annotation ()

S Devoy

The IRD refusal rests on the argument that IRD officers will have to drill into the personal details of taxpayers. This is a false argument and suggests that perhaps the IRD officer responding to this request does not understand how computing works.

Behind the "front end" of the IRD's systems sits one or more databases, in which the data sits. This data can be queried (perhaps using SQL) and a summary of the information requested can be provided. Provided that taxpayer's job titles are stored in the system (and they should be), it ought to be possible to filter the data to return only the numbers for the professions which represent MPS ("M.P.", "Member of Parliament", Prime Minister", etc.) No officer need delve into any taxpayer's records.

To take this to an extreme, if the IRD refuses your request updated as per the above, you could request the same information, only this time not for MPs, but grouped by job title or profession. The completed data set ought to be for all taxpayers in the country, so on no account could be said to be singling out individual taxpapers. An interested person could then analyse the data by pulling out rows which represent the professions of interest.

The only concern I have with this is that if a row would be returned with profession being, say, Prime Minister, then it would identify an individual. But I would say that the IRD would be acting in good faith if it refused on this ground, as there ought to be an easy way for it to aggregate the data (e.g. the Prime Minister is also an MP, hence group the data returned for all job titles which could identify individuals into one row, MPs.)

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J B left an annotation ()

Sorry, meant to say "But I would say that the IRD would NOT be acting in good faith if it refused on this ground, as there ought to be an easy way for it to aggregate the data (e.g. the Prime Minister is also an MP, hence group the data returned for all job titles which could identify individuals into one row, MPs.)"

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