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Thursday, 25 March 2004
Page: 27366

Mr Murphy asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 4 December 2003:

(1) Further to the answer to question No. 1346 (Hansard, 2 December 2003, page 23135), is it the case that the secrecy provisions under section 16 of the Income Tax Assessment Act do not preclude the Commissioner of Taxation from disclosing `publicly available' information.

(2) Can he explain whether the Commissioner of Taxation's letter to the NSW Bar Association on 24 January 2003 means that, in future, when requested by the NSW Bar Association, the NSW Law Society or other professional body, the Commissioner of Taxation will respond to requests made by those bodies for information on individual members if that information is already public.

Mr Costello (Treasurer) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Commissioner has sought advice from the Solicitor-General about the disclosure of information to professional bodies. The Solicitor-General's advice is that section 16 prohibits the disclosure of information about the tax affairs of another person to professional bodies.

(2) Having regard to the advice from the Solicitor-General, it would not be appropriate for the Commissioner to disclose information about the tax affairs of another person to a professional body.