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Privacy for agencies

Annual Report

: To identify parents in serious default of their child support liabilities who leave for, or return from, overseas so that IR can take steps to recover the outstanding debt. 

IR disclosure to Customs: IR provides Customs with the full name, date of birth and IRD number of parents in serious default of their child support liabilities.

Customs disclosure to IR: Customs provides IR with the person's arrival card information. This includes the full name, date of birth, and date, time and direction of travel, including New Zealand port and prime overseas port (last port of call for arrivals and first port of call for departures).

Compliance: Compliant.

Technical information 

Information matching provision Customs and Excise Act 1996, s.280K
Year authorised 2007
Year commenced 2008
Programme type Locating people
Unique identifiers Tax File Number
On-line transfers Yes

System description

This programme involves a two-way exchange of information between IR and Customs using near real-time business to business (B2B) encrypted communications.

IR sends the full name, date of birth, and IRD number of individuals who are in serious default[1] of their child support obligations to Customs for storage in either a Person of Interest (POI) list or an Alert (ALS) list. Selection for the POI or ALS list is determined primarily by the level of child support debt involved, with the highest value debtors included on the ALS list.

The matching process for the POI list involves a character-by-character comparison of the family name, given names (and any aliases), and date of birth. Customs supplies POI information to IR where there is an exact match result between information on the POI list and passenger movement information generated when an individual passes through Customs.

For matched individuals, Customs supplies IR their full name, date of birth, and IRD number, along with the date, time and direction of travel, including New Zealand port and prime overseas port (last port of call for arrivals and first port of call for departures). Customs POI information is automatically added into the IR's administrative records and an email is sent to a generic email address for further action by Child Support Officers.

The matching process for the ALS list uses the Customs standard matching process that converts names into an alpha-numeric code. An ALS list alert is generated for 'A' level match results which require a 91-100% match outcome based on a weighting system.

When an ALS list alert occurs, Customs supplies IR the same information as in the POI process above, and also include the match outcome rating achieved. In addition to the electronic alert information provided for ALS matches, Customs fax a copy of the front side of the arrival card.

All ALS alert results provided by Customs are sent to a holding file to await verification by a Child Support Officer before the information is updated into IR's administrative records. Action taken as a result of the information received from Customs is governed by IR policy. All avenues available to Child Support Officers are used in an attempt to make contact and obtain payment. Only in exceptional cases would an arrest warrant be applied for to enforce payment.

No notice of adverse action is sent for this programme. A legislative amendment to section 103 of the Privacy Act (s.103 (1c)), enacted alongside the legislation authorising this programme allows IR to initiate adverse action without sending a notice of adverse action. The rationale to forego sending a notice is that were a notice be provided to a liable parent, this may enable them to leave New Zealand earlier than originally planned, making enforcement action against the defaulter more difficult.

Recent activity

   2011/12 2012/13  2013/14  2014/15 2015/16
Possible matches identified 7,108 10,060 7,010 6,812 6,495
Arrival cards received for liable parents 1,034 1,057 1,533 1,028 1,172
Cards not useable or did not meet matching criteria 108 96 59 36 431
Remaining cards where contact attempted with liable parent  926  961  1,474 992 589
New contact details updated 413 212 190 328 426
Existing contact details confirmed 228 379 256 68 66
Contact details not useful 285 370 1,028 596 675

[1] Serious default means the state of having an amount of financial support debt due and owing to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue and satisfying criteria agreed by the Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner in consultation with the Chief Executive (Customs and Excise Act 1996, s.280J).