It's been a long saga, and it isn't over yet. But the end is in sight. On 12 February, 2019, I put in an OIA request for the data from the polling that IRD had commissioned from Colmar Brunton on tax attitudes. On 12 March, 2019, IRD declined the request on grounds that it would be considered sensitive tax data. I brought the matter to the Ombudsman the next day. But it later turned out that they had ordered the data destroyed. On 1 November, 2019, IRD gave me revised grounds for having refused the request: that the data had been destroyed. I had a chat with the Archivist's Office about what's required for that kind of destruction of public records, then went back to the Ombudsman.On 12 March, 2020, the Chief Ombudsman provided a substantial slap to IRD and directed them to get the
Eric Crampton considers the following as important: data, Inland Revenue, Official Information Act, open data
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You have acknowledged that IR’s original decision to refuse the request on this basis was incorrect. I agree. It is difficult, in circumstances where IR has not reviewed the information at issue, to be satisfied that its disclosure would be contrary to the Tax Administration Act.
IR has contended that, in retrospect, Clause 4.3.2 of its Disposal Authority, DA418, authorises the disposal of this kind of information. It is possible this is correct.8 However, as IR did not document its decision of 9 February 2019, I am unable to satisfy myself that IR properly turned its mind to its Disposal Authority when it decided to instruct Colmar Brunton to delete the political leanings data. It is, in short, not clear that its disposal was properly authorised.I therefore consider that IR was obliged, in the circumstances set out above, to contact Colmar Brunton to seek access to any backups of the political leanings data held by it or Dimensions while considering Dr Crampton’s request. In the absence of such efforts, I am not persuaded, subject to your further comment, that IR was entitled to refuse the request under section 18(e) of the OIA.
Dear Dr Crampton
I am writing to advise you of our next steps with regards to your complaint to the Ombudsman.
As advised by the Ombudsman in his final letter, we requested the data for the Trust in IR research survey from Colmar Brunton. We are currently working through the data and will let you know the result of your request for the data in due course.
Government & Executive Services