10 February 2020
[FYI request #11872 email]
Dear K Lambert
Thank you for your request made under the Official Information Act 1982 (the OIA), received
on 12 December 2019. You requested the following for 2019 and the previous three years
(numbered for ease of response):
Part 1: Statistics
Please provide for each of the OIA and PA the numbers of the following:
1. Requests received
2. Requests acknowledged within 20 working days
3. Requests in which the requested information or decision to decline was
provided within 20 working days
4. a) Requests in which the information was provided, declined or provided in
part (obviously separate figures).
b) In the case of declines or partials please identify the sections of each act
relied upon to decline in whole or in part
5. Requests that took more than three months to either fulfill or decline in
whole or in part and the reason for the refusal and for the delay for each one
6. Requests that were declined in whole or in part that were escalated to either
the ombudsman or privacy commission
In the case of instances that were escalated to either privacy commission or
ombudsman, please provide the numbers for:
7. Cases in which the matter was found in favour of the applicant's position
8. Cases that were found in favour of your position
9. Please provide the number of instances in which rulings have gone against
you and you have arrived at a monetary supplement with the applicant. Please
provide the total figure for each year that you paid out in these settlements.
10. Please also provide the numbers of both OIA and PA requests that at the
time of this request, had been received by yourselves more than three months
ago and that remain outstanding. Please provide a detailed an explanation for
the length of time for each case.
Part 2: Policy, procedure, practice and personnel Please provide copies of the
11. Any manuals, policy or process documents that you have relating to your
approach to OIA and PA requests
12. Structures in your organisation dedicated to OIA and PA requests. For
example, do you have a team dedicated to these functions? Do you have staff
in other roles who are routinely brought in to carry out these functions?
In either case, please provide the number of FTE dedicated to OIA and PA
13.Please explain how you maintain effective oversight of these functions -
Please explain what external organisations carry out oversight of these
functions. For example, do you have an independent body carry out audits to
ensure that the staff tasked with these functions are carrying them out in
accordance with the law.
On 28 January 2020, the time limit for making a decision on your request was extended by
five working days to 10 February 2020.
Publicly available information
Inland Revenue reports on OIA and Privacy Act requests as part of the Finance and
Expenditure Annual Review. The 2018/19 Annual Review is available on Parliament’s website (https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/business-before-
Inland Revenue also reports on OIA requests to the State Services Commission (SSC) every
The statistics for the period
July to December 2019 will be published in March.
Requests 1 and 3 – OIA
The requested information is provided in Inland Revenue’s responses to questions 77 and
78 of the 2018/19 Annual Review and as part of the statistics on SSC’s website.
Requests 6, 7 and 8
The number of complaints received under the OIA and the Privacy Act and the outcomes are
reported in Question 79 of the 2018/19 Annual Review.
Additionally, the Ombudsman publishes data on OIA complaints on a six-monthly basis on
their website (www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/resources-and-publications/oia-complaints-
The data for the period July to December 2019 will be published in March.
Accordingly, requests 1, 3 and 6-9 for OIAs, and requests 6-9 for Privacy Act requests is
refused under section 18(d) of the OIA, as the information is publicly available.
Information being released
Request 2 - OIA
Inland Revenue does not actively track acknowledgements of OIA requests and therefore
has limited data available. Further, OIAs received from the media are acknowledged by
Inland Revenue’s media team. Our policy is to acknowledge OIA requests within 1 working
day of receipt.
For the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years, 61 and 125 OIA requests respectively were
Inland Revenue did not record the acknowledgement of OIA requests for the 2015/16 and
2016/17 financial years. Accordingly, I am refusing your request under section 18(e) as the
information requested is not held.
Request 4 – OIA
The Commissioner of Inland Revenue has an obligation under the Tax Administration Act
(TAA) to maintain confidentiality in relation to sensitive revenue information, and is not
required to disclose information that would adversely affect the integrity of the tax system
or the maintenance of the law.
The general right of access under the OIA, and the individual’s right to personal
information under the PA, are both subject to the confidentiality provisions of the TAA.
When an OIA or Privacy Act request is made to Inland Revenue, the first consideration is
whether or not the information requested is sensitive revenue information and therefore
confidential under the TAA. The requirements of the TAA will take precedence over the
OIA and the PA.
The following table provides a breakdown of the number of requests that were released,
partially released or declined for the 2018/19 and 2017/18 financial years.
Financial Released Partially
65 s18(e), s18(c)(i), s81, s18
46 s8(e), s18(c)(i),
Within our OIA responses the following Privacy Act sections were relied on: s29(1)(a),
s29(2)(c), s29(2)a, s7(2)(a) and s29(2)(b).
Inland Revenue changed document management systems in the 2017/18 financial year. The
information available for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years is limited to the number
of requests declined. It would require a manual search for and review of each OIA received
in this period. Accordingly, I am refusing this part of your request under section 18(f) of the
OIA, as the information requested cannot be made available without substantial collation.
The following table provides the available information on the number of OIA requests refused
in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 year. For your information I have included the total number of
requests and the number of transfers in each year.
Request 5 – OIA
In the 2018/19 and previous three financial years there were no OIA requests that took
longer than three months to respond to. In the current financial year (2019/20) one OIA
request took longer than three months to respond to. This was because the email was
automatically quarantined in Inland Revenue’s computer system which meant there was a
delay in receiving the request.
Inland Revenue is not aware of any complaints to the Ombudsman or Privacy Commissioner
that resulted in monetary payments or settlements.
Requests 1 to 5 and 10 – Privacy Act
The information you have requested is not held by Inland Revenue. Inland Revenue
responds to requests for personal information from customers as part of our business as
usual correspondence. Customer Service Officers in the contact centre often respond to
requests for personal information. As these requests can be responded to informally over
the phone, such as a request for a customer’s IRD number, or more formally in writing,
there is no record of all the requests received. Accordingly, I am refusing your request under
section 18(e) as the information requested is not held by Inland Revenue.
Request 10 – OIA
There are no OIA requests that were received more than three months ago that remain
Inland Revenue is currently completing a review of its OIA processes. It is expected that
documentation supporting how to respond to an OIA will change.
The table below provides a list of Privacy Act and OIA resources currently available to
assist staff with these requests.
Privacy Act requests
Process when responding to a request
Reasons to refuse a request
How to intranet page
Stakeholder Relations – Information Request intranet page
OIA Guidelines to withhold
IR Guide to Official Information Act and Privacy Act requests
Policy and Strategy – Official Information Act Requests intranet page
Requests for Cabinet papers
Complete list of OIA withholding grounds
Internal reviews of Official Information and Privacy Act refusals
Cross agency process and contact list for OIAs media and PQs
START help information for OIA requests – guidance for frontline staff
Some information in these documents has been withheld under section 9(2)(a) of the OIA,
to protect the privacy of natural persons.
Inland Revenue staff also utilise publicly available resources such as the guidance provided
by the Ombudsman, available on their website.
Request 12 Privacy Act
Inland Revenue has one full-time Privacy Officer, but it does not have a dedicated team to
respond to information requests. Most information requests are received by frontline
customer service staff; therefore, these staff respond. Requests by current or former Inland
Revenue employees are managed by the People & Culture team and requests by individuals
involved in litigation with Inland Revenue are managed by Legal Services.
Inland Revenue has a decentralised privacy office governance structure. One FTE dedicated
Privacy Officer oversees privacy compliance, practices and advises, while decision-making
for day-to-day activities, such as information requests, is delegated.
Inland Revenue does not have a dedicated team to respond to OIA requests. The
Government and Executive Services team is primarily responsible for providing support to
the office of the Minister of Revenue and the office of the Commissioner of Inland Revenue.
This includes responding to OIA requests.
Request are referred to the relevant business unit(s) to consider the information for release.
The Government and Executive Services staff provide advice and assistance throughout this
The number of staff in the Government and Executive Services team for the 2018/19 and
the previous three financial years is set out in the table below.
Note: Total FTE represents the total number of full time equivalent employees, taking into
consideration the percentage of part time employee’s work. Employees who were externally
seconded or on continuous leave without pay are excluded from the data.
Request 13 Privacy Act
The Government Chief Privacy Officer (GCPO) issued core expectations that represent good
practice for privacy management and governance in the State services. Core public sector
agencies are required to assess their privacy capability and compliance. Since 2015 Inland
Revenue has reported annually to the GCPO on its privacy maturity.
The Deputy Commissioner Corporate Integrity & Assurance has overall responsibility with
the Executive Leadership Team for privacy. The Privacy Officer regularly reports to the
Deputy Commissioner and will escalate any privacy issues to Inland Revenue governance
committees if necessary.
Inland Revenue’s internal audit and assurance team also undertake privacy-related audits.
Inland Revenue does not engage an independent body to audit compliance. However, the
Ombudsman can carry out external oversight function if necessary. As previously stated,
we also report every six months to SSC on the OIA requests we have received.
Internally, Government and Executive Services reports regularly on the OIA requests
received to the Deputy Commissioner Corporate Integrity & Assurance.
Right of Review
If you disagree with my decisions on your OIA request, you can ask an Inland Revenue
review officer to review my decisions. To ask for an internal review, please email the
Commissioner of Inland Revenue at: [email address].
Alternatively, under section 28(3) of the OIA, you have the right to ask the Ombudsman to
investigate and review my decision. You can contact the office of the Ombudsman by email
at: [email address].
Kerryn McIntosh-Watt Manager, Government & Executive Services