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Powers of the Commissioner

In investigating tax payers’ affairs, the commissioner has a range of search and seizure powers. Compared to any other public official or government department, the commissioner has one of the widest sets of powers. 

Specifically, under the Under the Tax Administration Act 1994 s.16-19 the commissioner has:

1. Access premises to obtain information:

• Provided that the Commissioner has obtained an access warrant, the commissioner can access private dwellings to inspect documents and anything else that is considered necessary or relevant’ for carrying out their functions.

• Have full and free access at all times to any other type of property to inspect documents and anything else.

• Require the occupier of any land that is accessed to provide all reasonable facilities and assistance and answer all proper questions to enable the access and inspection to be carried out effectively.

• Remove books and documents from a property that has been accessed in order to take copies. Also retain the books and documents from the property.


2. Information to be furnished on request:

• Require any person to provide in writing any information and produce for inspection any documents that are considered necessary or relevant for carrying out the Commissioner’s functions. Remove and retain such documents and also copy these documents.

• Require the taxpayer to verify the information by statutory declaration.

• Apply to the court for an order that a taxpayer provide information or file a return.


3. Inquiry before a District court Judge:

• Hold an inquiry before a District Court judge for the purpose of obtaining information about any person’s possible tax liability.


4. Inquiry by Commissioner:

• Require any person to attend an internal inquiry before an IR officer for the purpose of obtaining information about any person’s possible tax liability.

• Require evidence to be given on oath in such an internal inquiry.

• Require the person summoned to such an internal inquiry to bring potentially relevant documents.


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