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More powers to IRAS on disclosure of taxpayer information to government agencies

Section 6 (Official secrecy) of both the Income Tax Act 1947 and Goods and Services Tax Act 1993 binds the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) to preserve the confidentiality of a taxpayer’s information, except under certain circumstances where the IRAS can share this information with certain government agencies.

Budget 2022 proposes to introduce new legislation that grants the IRAS the power to disclose to government agencies a prescribed list of identifiable information without the consent of the taxpayer. This new legislation is intended to support data-driven policy setting, improved public office operations and integrated service delivery.

More powers to IRAS on disclosure of taxpayer information to government agencies

Whilst taxpayers may appreciate the Government’s intent in this data-driven policy making approach, it is inevitable that taxpayers would have concerns around the expanded powers given to the IRAS that could affect its ability to preserve taxpayers’ rights to secrecy and confidentiality. This is especially given the IRAS may be privy to documents containing trade secrets and sensitive commercial information. It is hoped that the IRAS will address taxpayers’ concerns by being transparent about:

  • the specific purpose for which the information will be used
  • the scope and type of information that may be shared
  • the safeguards and related protocols that will be put in place to prevent any unintended cyber-leak of confidential information or information being shared out of context

Notwithstanding the fact that certain safeguards would be maintained when the data is ingested by the public agencies, this alone may not fully eliminate taxpayers’ concerns. Open consultation with taxpayers to gather feedback on the acceptable parameters around those information which may be shared and those which must not would go a long way towards maintaining taxpayers’ confidence in the IRAS’ commitment to protecting taxpayer confidentiality.

Get in touch

Chris Woo

Tax Leader, PwC Singapore

+65 9118 0811

Email

Allison Cheung

Asia Pacific Tax Reporting and Strategy Leader, PwC Singapore

+65 8218 8350

Email

Tan Tay Lek

Partner, Tax, PwC Singapore

+65 9179 2725

Email

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