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In a luncheon address to the Taxation Institute's 24th National Convention held in Sydney, New South Wales, on 13 March 2009, the Assistant Treasurer, Chris Bowen, announced the release for public comment an exposure draft of Tax Laws Amendment (Confidentiality of Taxpayer Information) Bill 2009 and explanatory materials. The Bill proposes to implement the single and consolidated framework outlined in the Treasury discussion paper released in 2006, to govern the protection and disclosure of taxpayer information received by the ATO in the course of administering the taxation laws.

In a media release issued on the same day, Mr Bowen said that in addition to standardising existing taxation secrecy and disclosure provisions, the new framework also makes it clear that the future disclosure of taxpayer information should only be permitted where the public benefit from the disclosure outweighs taxpayer privacy. Other key features of the new framework include that:

  • it maintains current levels of disclosures that can be made by the ATO to other government agencies;
  • it introduces some new disclosure provisions, where the public benefit outweighs taxpayer privacy;
  • it includes clear rules to govern the on-disclosure of taxpayer information provided by the ATO to another agency or entity;
  • it clarifies that there is no prohibition on the disclosure of taxpayer information that is lawfully available to the public; and
  • it provides that a taxpayer's consent can not in and of itself authorise the disclosure of their information.
Written comments on the consultation materials are required to be sent to Treasury by Friday 17 April 2009.

The Taxation Institute commented on the proposal in a media release issued on 13 March 2009.

For a copy of Mr Bowen's media release, No 2009/015, 13 March 2009, go here.

For a copy of the Exposure Draft and related materials, go here.

For a copy of Mr Bowen's address to the Taxation Institute, go here.

For a copy of the Taxation Institute's media release, 13 March 2009, go here.

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