2011 legislation replaces the definition of 'book and document' in the Tax Administration Act 1994 with a new definition of 'document'.

Sections 3(1), 16(1), 16B, 16C(1) and (2), 16C(5) to (7), 17(1), 17(1B), 17(1D), 17(3), 17(4), 17(6), 17A(15), 19(1), 20(1) to (6), 20B(1) to (3), 20C, 20D, 20E, 20F(1) and (2), 20G(1) and (2), 21(8), 81(3), 81(4)(b), 81(4)(c), 81(4)(l), 86(2), 87(2), 143(1)(a), 143(1B), 143A(1)(a), 143B(1)(a) and 150D of the Tax Administration Act 1994; section 15(2) of the Taxation Review Authorities Act 1994; and section 2(1) of the Goods and Services Tax Act 1985

The definition of "book and document" in section 3 of the Tax Administration Act 1994 has been replaced with a new definition of "document". The new definition removes references to redundant technology.


Before the amendment, section 3 of the Tax Administration Act 1994 defined "book and document" and "book or document" as including:

  • all books, accounts, rolls, records, registers, papers, and other documents and all photographic plates, microfilms, photostatic negatives, prints, tapes, discs, computer reels, perforated rolls, or any other type of record whatever.

The definition had not been updated since 1974 and therefore did not reflect changes in technology since then. For example, some of the terminology referred to out-of-date technology such as computer reels and perforated rolls.

In a recent Court of Appeal decision it was decided that computer hard drives were a "book or document" under the Tax Administration Act 1994, as the definition already included "or any type of record whatever". 1 Therefore, the new definition does not extend the current definition but instead updates it, for example, by removing references to redundant technology.

Updating the definition does not affect departmental practice because it is Inland Revenue's view that the previous definition included any records in electronic form. Inland Revenue's practice is to use cloning technology to copy computer records on site whenever practicable rather than remove computers from premises, thereby minimising any impact on taxpayers' activities.

Key features

The definition of "book and document" in section 3 of the Tax Administration Act 1994 has been replaced with a new definition "document". The new definition of "document" covers the medium on which information is stored, the information itself and any device associated with the medium which allows the information to be communicated.

The words "book and document" throughout the Inland Revenue Acts have been replaced with the new term "document".

Application date

The amendments apply from the date of Royal assent, being 29 August 2011.

1 Avowal Administrative Attorneys Ltd & Ors v The District Court at North Shore & the Commissioner of Inland Revenue