Civil liberties are under threat as the Inland Revenue wields its search and seizure powers more freely, a senior tax barrister warns.
The taxman’s use of its powers to search and seize property has risen seven-fold over the past five years, from 12 in 2007 to 85 in the last year.
Mike Lennard, a former senior IRD lawyer, says the surge does not appear justified given the high level of compliance by New Zealand taxpayers.
“As the commissioner herself said only a couple of months ago, our tax compliance is among the best in the OECD, “ Mr Lennard says.
In today’s print edition of the National Business Review, he explains why the trend concerns him and why questions need to be asked at the right levels of the Inland Revenue.
“Are we prosecuting people more and intruding on their privacy and liberty more because we need to do so or simply because we have lawyers and investigators who would otherwise have nothing to do?"
He notes that people on the receiving end of the IRD’s search and seizure activity tend to have somewhat chequered records.
“It’s easy for the department to say all of these people have bad compliance histories. They probably do.
"But the fact is, historically, infringements on civil liberties rarely begin against totally blameless people,” he says.
This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags
- English: I’m not going anywhere
- Ardern: new government will follow Labour's immigration policy, not NZ First's
- What's in the Labour/NZ First agreement for businesses? Not much, so far
- Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary plan still on the table: Shaw
- All Whites are long odds vs Peru in FIFA qualifier but NZ gets tourism payback
Most listened to
- Lewis Road ceo Peter Cullinane says Southern Pastures was the best fit of potential investors they spoke to
- Telecommunications Users Association's Craig Young says Vocus are getting ready for a familiar experience, getting sold
- Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and NZ First leader Winston Peters discuss their foreign ownership plans
- Rodney Hide, unlike the public, is unsurprised at the insanity of politics
- Jacqueline Rowarth on how food production advances have influenced our consumption habits
- NBR Radio: The best interviews, with Grant Walker — updated daily