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11 May 2000

Tape recording Inland Revenue interviews (May 00) (WITHDRAWN)

Withdrawn statement SPS INV-330-Tape recording Inland Revenue interviews. Statement provided for historical purposes only.


This statement has been withdrawn and is provided for historical purposes only.


In keeping with its efforts to streamline its activities by using technology, Inland Revenue has been conducting some of its interviews using audio recording rather than the traditional method of taking hand written notes.  This Standard Practice Statement (SPS) outlines Inland Revenue's standard practice when audio taping an interview.

Interviews can range from general information exchanges where Inland Revenue will gather information to enable resolution of queries, through to formal interview situations where a line of enquiry has potential for litigation.

Generally, interviewees will be advised of the intention to tape-record interviews by Inland Revenue when arranging interviews.  Occasions may arise where, after having arranged an interview, Inland Revenue may seek to tape-record and interviewees will be advised prior to the commencement of the interview.  Where interviews are voluntary, Inland Revenue will respect interviewees decisions to decline tape-recording of discussion.

Statements made during recorded interviews may be admissible as evidence, and in this respect it is important that the interviews are carried out fairly to the person being interviewed.  Admissibility will however, be subject to the normal rules of evidence applicable to the presiding Court.

Before going into the general detail of Inland Revenue practice when taping interviews, it is opportune to reflect on why the SPS has been developed.

Over recent years, Inland Revenue has used tape recorders at various interviews simply for ease of providing a complete record of discussion between parties.  This has ranged from the use of Dictaphones through to the use of triple deck recorders, depending on the needs of the parties and the types of interviews.

It now seems appropriate to establish a standard practice which is able to be applied across a variety of interview situations where tape recorders might reasonably be used.  The simple use of technology to record (generally by consensus) interview situations does not result in any significant change to current Inland Revenue practice.


This Standard Practice Statement applies from 1 June 2000.

This SPS will not apply to an independent contractor who is conducting an interview on behalf of Inland Revenue, for example a research company contracted to carry out a customer satisfaction survey or an external solicitor under contract to carry out a Child Support review.


Recording interviews in audio format is now a common practice by investigative agencies and there are advantages for both Inland Revenue staff and the person being interviewed in audio recording.

  • The interview will take less time than is the case when hand written notes are taken.
  • There is an exact record of what was said at the interview by both the interviewee and the Inland Revenue Officer conducting the interview.
  • Tape-recording provides far greater clarity of content of what is said and the inferences from it.
  • The Inland Revenue staff member and the interviewee can concentrate fully on the interview instead of there being a delay in taking full notes.
  • There will be a copy of the taped interview available to the interviewee.
  • If Inland Revenue transcribes the tape a full copy is available for the interviewee after transcription.

Standard Practice

When to tape interviews

Tape recording may be deemed necessary if:

  • The tax affairs to which the interview relates are complex.
  • There are numerous facts to be gathered.
  • There are inconsistencies in the interviewee's explanations to date.
  • The relationship between the interviewee and Inland Revenue has deteriorated and objectivity needs to be restored.  Inland Revenue has reasonable grounds for considering legal proceedings may be taken involving the interviewee or some other taxpayer.  Inland Revenue has reasonable grounds for considering that the interviewee may provide important information in circumstances where the interviewee's or another taxpayer's purpose or intention is relevant e.g. in relation to avoidance.
  • The interviewee requests that the interview be recorded.

However, these are examples only and the decision by Inland Revenue staff to tape-record an interview is not limited to these situations.

An interviewee may request that an interview be recorded using the audio monitor equipment.  Such requests must be made prior to the interview and will be subject to the availability of Inland Revenue's recording equipment.

In most cases, the interviewee will be advised prior to attending the interview that the intention is to record the interview.



Where an interviewee is attending an interview voluntarily the interview will only be recorded with the consent and co-operation of the interviewee.

Attendance at an inquiry by the Commissioner under section 19 of the Tax Administration Act 1994 is compulsory.  All interviews carried out under this section will be tape-recorded.  The interviewee can not decline the tape-recording of interviews carried out under this section.

There will not be any secret tape-recording of interviews.  To minimise the possibility of accusations of secret recording the interviewee's acknowledgement that the interview is being taped will also be recorded during the interview.


When Inland Revenue intends to record interviews, Inland Revenue will provide the audio equipment; this will be general practice whether interviews are held at an Inland Revenue office or elsewhere.  New tape cassettes should be used for each interview.

The audio monitoring equipment used to record interviews may vary between Inland Revenue offices.  Interviews may be taped on any equipment as long as the recording equipment records the interview clearly and all the participants can be heard and are distinguishable on the tape.

Inland Revenue may use equipment that produces one, two or three copies of the taped interview.

  1. Master Copy

    Where Inland Revenue uses recording equipment that produces three copies of the taped interview one copy will become the master tape. This cassette will be removed from the recorder and sealed at the conclusion of the interview while the interviewee is still present.  It will be stored in a secure place in the Inland Revenue office.  It will remain sealed until such time as it may be required for evidential purposes.

  2. Interviewee's Copy

    If a two or three tape cassette recorder is used the interviewee will be given one of the cassettes immediately after the interview to keep for his/her own purposes.
    If a single deck recorder is used and the interviewee requests a copy of the interview then Inland Revenue will make another copy as soon as possible after the interview and give it to the interviewee.

  3. Working Copy

    The working copy of the tape becomes part of the investigation records and is used for any other purposes as required.  Inland Revenue will usually copy the working copy and use this version to work with.  If it should get lost or destroyed another copy can be made from the original working copy.

Labelling of cassettes

Each cassette and its cover (where no cover is available, a sealed bag or envelope will be used) will have an adhesive label affixed on which should be written:

  • Interviewee's name
  • Interviewer's name
  • Date of interview

This Standard Practice Statement was signed by me on 11th of May 2000.


Margaret Cotton
National Manager Technical Standards