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Confidential tax communication: A right or a privilege?


Legal professional privilege protects the confidentiality of certain communications between a legal advisor and client, but does not extend to protect the confidentiality of advice from advisors other than legal advisors. With much taxation advice being provided by non-legal advisors, a disparity exists between the confidentiality afforded legal and non-legal advice.

By way of background, this paper outlines the rationale underlying the doctrine of legal professional privilege. Against this background the paper then examines the alternative approaches of Australian and New Zealand authorities in addressing this disparity in the confidentiality of tax advice. While Australia has adopted an administrative approach to provide some confidentiality to non-legal advice, New Zealand has opted for a legislative solution to provide an equivalent to legal professional privilege for advice from accountants. The paper contrasts these divergent approaches in terms of the scope of operation and outcomes.

Author profile

Assoc Prof Rodney Fisher
Rodney is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney. He is also a member of Adjunct Faculty at Atax, UNSW, lecturing in postgraduate CBD classes. Rodney has published widely in both academic and professional journals on a range of tax issues, and has presented both in Australia and overseas, addressing a range of both current tax technical issues and legal/policy matters. - Current at 14 December 2012
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