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Taxpayers have rights! - Ombudsmen

Wednesday 22nd Dec 1999
Rodney Hide
Media Release -- Other

ACT Finance spokesman Rodney Hide said today that the Ombudsmen's Own Motion investigation into the IRD's handling of official information tabled today was the greatest victory ever struck on behalf of taxpayers.

"The Ombudsmen have determined that taxpayers have the right to know the rules and reasons behind any decision affecting them. Until now, IRD policy and practice has been to deny taxpayers access to this vital information. IRD's secrecy has enabled much of the harassment and abuse and indeed, the culture of "fear and punishment," that has permeated the IRD in recent years.

"Taxpayers need no longer suffer like Ian Lee Mutton. He was driven to suicide by IRD's intransigence and abuse. Taxpayers now need simply ask what rules are being applied to them and the reasons for their treatment. The IRD are now required to supply this information. The Official Information Act's application to the IRD provides the very transparency needed to stop IRD victimisation in its tracks.

"The Ombudsmen have done a great job on behalf of taxpayers. Their report today means that IRD can no longer continue to be the secretive, unaccountable and aggressive organisation that it has become.

"I do hope that IRD Commissioner Graham Holland will endorse the Ombudsmen's findings and immediately implement them.

"The only other major change needed is the re-reversal of the burden of proof so that taxpayers are no longer guilty until they prove their innocence," concluded Rodney Hide.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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