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Inspector-General of Taxation Bill 2003

Part 4 Other matters

   

37   Secrecy

Definitions

             (1)  In this section:

person to whom this section applies means a person who is or was:

                     (a)  the Inspector-General; or

                     (b)  a member of the Inspector-General’s staff.

protected document means a document that:

                     (a)  is obtained or made by a person to whom this section applies in the course of, or because of, the person’s functions, powers or duties under or in relation to this Act; and

                     (b)  contains information relating to a taxpayer’s affairs.

protected information means information that:

                     (a)  is disclosed to, or obtained by, a person to whom this section applies in the course of, or because of, the person’s functions, powers or duties under or in relation to this Act; and

                     (b)  relates to a taxpayer’s affairs.

Protected information may be recorded or disclosed only for purposes of this Act

             (2)  A person to whom this section applies commits an offence if:

                     (a)  the person:

                              (i)  makes a copy or other record of any protected information or of all or part of any protected document; or

                             (ii)  discloses any protected information to another person or to a court or tribunal; or

                            (iii)  produces all or part of a protected document to another person or to a court or tribunal; and

                     (b)  in doing so, the person is not acting in the course of performing or exercising functions, powers or duties under or in relation to this Act.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 2 years.

Courts generally cannot require protected information to be disclosed etc.

             (3)  A person to whom this section applies cannot be required to:

                     (a)  disclose any protected information to a court or tribunal; or

                     (b)  produce all or part of a protected document to a court or tribunal;

unless that disclosure or production is necessary for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of this Act.

38   Reporting breaches of duty or misconduct

                   If the Inspector-General forms the opinion either before, during or after conducting a review:

                     (a)  that a person who is or was a tax official has engaged in misconduct; and

                     (b)  that the evidence is of sufficient weight to justify the Inspector-General doing so;

the Inspector-General must report the evidence to:

                     (c)  if the person is or was the Commissioner of Taxation—the Minister; or

                     (d)  otherwise—the Commissioner.

39   Victimisation

Actually causing detriment to another person

             (1)  A person (the first person ) commits an offence if:

                     (a)  the first person engages in conduct; and

                     (b)  the first person’s conduct causes any detriment to another person (the second person ); and

                     (c)  the first person intends that his or her conduct cause detriment to the second person; and

                     (d)  the detriment is caused without the consent of the second person; and

                     (e)  the first person engages in his or her conduct because the second person or a third person:

                              (i)  gave, or may give, information when requested or required to do so under section 14 or 15; or

                             (ii)  produced, or may produce, a document when requested or required to do so under section 14 or 15; or

                            (iii)  attended, or may attend, to answer questions when requested or required to do so under section 14 or 15; or

                            (iv)  answered, or may answer, questions while attending to answer questions when requested or required to do so under section 14 or 15; or

                             (v)  is expressly or impliedly referred to in a report under section 10 or 41; or

                            (vi)  is the subject of a report under section 38.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 6 months.

Threatening to cause detriment to another person

             (2)  A person (the first person ) commits an offence if:

                     (a)  the first person makes to another person (the second person ) a threat to cause any detriment to the second person or to a third person; and

                     (b)  the first person:

                              (i)  intends the second person to fear that the threat will be carried out; or

                             (ii)  is reckless as to causing the second person to fear that the threat will be carried out; and

                     (c)  the first person makes the threat because a person:

                              (i)  gave, or may give, information when requested or required to do so under section 14 or 15; or

                             (ii)  produced, or may produce, a document when requested or required to do so under section 14 or 15; or

                            (iii)  attended, or may attend, to answer questions when requested or required to do so under section 14 or 15; or

                            (iv)  answered, or may answer, questions while attending to answer questions when requested or required to do so under section 14 or 15; or

                             (v)  is expressly or impliedly referred to in a report under section 10 or 41; or

                            (vi)  is the subject of a report under section 38.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 6 months.

             (3)  For the purposes of subsection (2), a threat may be:

                     (a)  express or implied; or

                     (b)  conditional or unconditional.

             (4)  In a prosecution for an offence against subsection (2), it is not necessary to prove that the person threatened actually feared that the threat would be carried out.

40   Protection from liability for Minister, Inspector-General etc.

             (1)  This section applies to the following persons ( protected persons ):

                     (a)  the Minister;

                     (b)  the Inspector-General;

                     (c)  a person acting under the Inspector-General’s authority.

             (2)  A protected person is not liable to civil proceedings for loss, damage or injury of any kind suffered by another person as a result of the performance or exercise, in good faith, of the protected person’s functions, powers or duties under or in relation to this Act.

41   Annual report

Annual report to be given to Minister

             (1)  The Inspector-General must, as soon as practicable after 30 June in each year, prepare and give to the Minister a report (an annual report ) on the operations of the Inspector-General during the year that ended on that 30 June.

Note:          For limitations on what may be included in reports under this section, see the following provisions:

(a)           section 22 (information that would be prejudicial to the public interest);

(b)           section 23 (taxpayer information);

(c)           section 24 (identifying tax officials);

(d)           section 25 (criticising the ATO or tax officials);

(e)           section 26 (confidential submissions);

(f)            section 27 (legal professional privilege).

Details of any subsection 8(2) directions to be included

             (2)  The report must include details of any directions given by the Minister under subsection 8(2) during the year.

Annual report to be tabled in Parliament

             (3)  The Minister must cause a copy of each annual report to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after the day on which the Minister receives the report.

42   Delegation of certain powers by Inspector-General

                   The Inspector-General may delegate all or any of the following powers to a member of the Inspector-General’s staff:

                     (a)  the Inspector-General’s powers under section 13 to invite submissions, to decide matters connected with the process for inviting or making submissions, and to make submissions available;

                     (b)  the Inspector-General’s power under section 21 to request access to premises;

                     (c)  the Inspector-General’s power under section 25 to give a reasonable opportunity to make submissions;

                     (d)  the Inspector-General’s powers under subsections 36(3) and (4) to make arrangements and engage consultants (including determining the terms and conditions of their engagement).

43   Regulations

General power to make regulations

             (1)  The Governor-General may make regulations prescribing matters:

                     (a)  required or permitted by this Act to be prescribed; or

                     (b)  necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.

Regulations about fees and allowances for expenses

             (2)  Without limiting subsection (1), the regulations may provide for a person who attends before the Inspector-General, or a member of the Inspector-General’s staff, under section 13, 14, 15 or 25 to be paid, in relation to that attendance, fees and allowances for expenses fixed by, or calculated in accordance with, the regulations.

44   Schedule(s)

                   Each Act that is specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule concerned, and any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.