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An external dataset is bulk data relating to individuals, entities, or groups of taxpayers and is obtained by Inland Revenue from businesses, organisations or individuals.

External datasets include bulk data requested under section 17B of the Tax Administration Act 1994 (the Act) and datasets acquired from open sources such as:

  • public registers
  • commercially acquired datasets
  • public domain.

Our power to obtain external datasets

Section 17B of the Act gives the Commissioner the power to require any person to provide information, such as large datasets, that the Commissioner considers necessary or relevant for administering or enforcing the revenue laws.

Because of this, the person providing the information does not need to obtain permission from an individual for the information that is to be provided to us. However, the person may inform the individual about the dataset request if they wish to.

What external datasets are used for

Under the Act, the Commissioner is required to protect the integrity of the tax system and is responsible for the care and management of taxes. It is a requirement that the Commissioner collects over time the highest net revenue practicable within the law.

External datasets may be used for the following purposes to help meet these legislative requirements.

  • Making sure our customers are paying the right amount of tax, complying with their tax obligations and taking targeted compliance actions where appropriate.
  • Helping our customers receive the correct entitlement.
  • Identifying opportunities to improve customer service offerings.

Collecting information is part of the day to day activities carried out by Inland Revenue in administering the tax system and is obtained from many sources. Information is obtained where the Commissioner considers it necessary or relevant for the administration or the enforcement of the tax acts. We will approach businesses, organisations and individuals from time to time to obtain bulk information to meet our information needs.

We cannot explain in detail the purpose of the external dataset as under our obligations to protect the integrity of the tax system and confidentiality of information provisions (sections 6 and 18 respectively of the Act) our officers are required to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive revenue information and the affairs of taxpayers.

External Dataset Framework

In recognition of the sensitive nature of this type of information, we have developed an External Dataset Framework to apply rigorous processes to govern how the Commissioner's power to obtain datasets is exercised and over how this information is used and managed. We are bound by confidentiality of information provisions and the data obtained is used for the purposes of tax administration.

The framework applies to:

  • requests for bulk data that are made under section 17B of the Act
  • the acquisition of bulk open source datasets from free or publicly available sources, as well as public registers.

The framework doesn't apply to:

  • Memorandums of understanding or information sharing agreements set up between other agencies and Inland Revenue. These agreements are intended for regular sharing of incoming and outgoing information for the purpose of delivering public services
  • data matching programmes between Government departments which are approved by statute and regulated by the Privacy Commissioner.

The process for requesting a dataset

Collecting information under the External Dataset Framework is done in 3 stages.

Stage 1: Business case approval

The framework has control and governance processes in place that determine if a dataset request is appropriate. A business case is prepared to make sure that requests for datasets are made when the Commissioner considers it necessary or relevant. Once a business case is prepared, legal and organisational guidance is provided as it is being reviewed for approval.

Stage 2: Issue section 17B notice

Once a business case has been approved, we will issue a section 17B notice to request the information from the business or other organisation. The section 17B notice will:

  • list all of the information required
  • detail the taxpayer's statutory non-disclosure rights
  • provide details on how the information can be delivered and/or collected.

During this stage there will be engagement with the business, organisation, or individual before and during the issuing of the section 17B notice.

Stage 3: Dataset receipt

An Inland Revenue officer will contact the business, organisation, or individual to arrange the collection and delivery of the information. Generally an Inland Revenue officer will collect the information from the dataset provider at a time agreed by both parties.

If gathering the information is unduly time-consuming or causing the dataset provider difficulty, the Inland Revenue officer involved should be contacted for assistance. In cases of genuine difficulty the section 17B notice may be modified, however this must be agreed by Inland Revenue before the expiration of the date on the original notice.

Obligations of the dataset provider

If a business, organisation, or individual receives a request from us to supply a dataset, they are legally obliged to provide that information under section 17B of the Act.

Confidentiality and privacy

We recognise the sensitive nature of this type of information. Access to data obtained from a dataset provider is limited to our staff who require the information. We have strict access controls in place to prevent unauthorised access to personal information. Staff are prohibited from accessing, recording, or disclosing any customer's tax information except in the performance of their duties. Internal audit checks are built into the External Dataset Framework to make sure that the framework's processes, procedures and system-user monitoring policies are followed.


Our External Dataset Framework team can help with the extraction, encryption and safe transport of data. Businesses, organisations, and individuals that require assistance must arrange this with us before their section 17B notice expires.

Further information

If you have any further questions about our use of external datasets, or if you have received a dataset request that you need assistance with, please contact External Dataset Co-ordinator

Last updated: 28 Apr 2021
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