If something is wrong with your tax returns, we encourage you to tell us about it so that it can be corrected as soon as possible. This is called making a voluntary disclosure. Individuals and businesses can make a voluntary disclosure.
If we find errors in your tax returns, you could face significant penalties. It is best to tell us what is wrong with your tax returns before we find out in some other way. The benefits of making a voluntary disclosure are greater if you make a full and complete disclosure before being notified of a pending tax audit.
There are still some benefits if you wait until you're notified of an audit, but only if you make a full and complete disclosure before the audit actually begins.
The advantages of making a voluntary disclosure are:
- you will not be prosecuted in court (if you make a pre-notification disclosure)
- any shortfall penalty will be reduced.
A larger reduction for a shortfall penalty will be given if you make a voluntary disclosure before being notified of a pending tax audit or investigation.
For post-notification disclosures, prosecution may only be considered in cases of evasion or fraud.
You can make a voluntary disclosure:
- by completing a Voluntary disclosure (IR281) form
- by contacting us by phone, letter, fax or email
- by visiting an Inland Revenue office
- during an interview.
Any of our customers may be selected for an audit where we look at your tax and business records to check that:
- your tax returns have been completed correctly, and
- you have paid the correct amount of tax.
As a result of the audit, you may receive a tax refund or be asked to pay more tax.
Find out more
Read our booklet Putting your tax returns right (IR280).
Date published: 07 Dec 2010