List of names must be provided
2007 case note - Non-disclosure right did not apply to a list of names and list must be provided to the CIR under s 17 of the Tax Administration Act.
Non-disclosure right did not apply to a list of names and that list must be provided to the Commissioner under section 17 of the TAA.
In the course of an investigation the Commissioner obtained four tax opinions prepared by a chartered accountant. The Commissioner considered that the arrangements referred to in the opinions were tax avoidance.
In an attempt to identify other taxpayers that had entered into similar arrangements the Commissioner issued a section 17 to the accountant asking him to provide a list of names of persons to whom he had provided advice to in respect of similar arrangements.
The accountant did not comply with the notice, arguing that as the Commissioner already had the advice he would unavoidably be providing the contents of the advice in breach of his clients' non-disclosure right contained in section 20B of the TAA.
The Commissioner argued that the list of clients' names did not fall within the definition of a "tax advice document" as set out in section 20B(2). On the other hand, the accountant argued that the Commissioner was attempting to obtain the content of tax advice documents by circumventing the statutory non-disclosure righ.
The Court held that, in the circumstances of the case, if the list of names were disclosed it would disclose that the clients on the list had received similar advice to that contained in the accountant's opinions. However, that situation had only arisen because the accountant had disclosed to the Commissioner that he had given similar advice to other clients. It would be an odd situation if the enforceability of the section 17 notice could be avoided, by the accountant advising that the same advice had been given to other clients.
Further, that the plain meaning of the words in section 20B requires the identification of a particular book or document in respect of which the non-disclosure right is claimed.
In the result the Court held that the list of names must be produced to the Commissioner and the section 17 Notice could not be resisted.
Tax Administration Act 1994 ("TAA")