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Tax administration principles: non-publicity, confidentiality, and personal data collection

Certain procedural principles, such as the principles of legality, speed, and economy, apply in various areas of public law. Other principles are specific for the administration of taxes, such as the principles of confidentiality, non-publicity, and personal data collection, and will be discussed in more detail below.

Given the nature of information provided to the tax authorities, tax administration is non-public, which is manifested in the principle of non-publicity. This principle should ensure that taxpayers have confidence in the proper functioning of the tax administration and that the data provided to the tax administration is not accessible to the public and only used for tax administration purposes.

Intricately linked to the principle of non-publicity is the obligation of confidentiality (the principle of secrecy). Officials and persons involved in tax administration are bound by this principle, and the obligation of confidentiality continues even after the end of the administrator's procedure (e.g., tax inspection) or after the termination of their employment with the tax administrator.

Confidentiality does not apply to publicly available information. A breach of confidentiality shall not be deemed to include (i) the disclosure of generalised information (e.g. for statistical purposes) unless it is apparent which persons it relates to, (ii) the provision of information to other officials in the course of administrative or criminal proceedings, (iii) the provision of information to a person involved in the administration of taxes to the extent that their rights and obligations are affected by the administration of taxes, or (iv) the provision of information to the Financial Analysis Office, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the courts and other entities, under the conditions laid down in the Tax Procedure Code. In contrast, the use of information obtained in the course of tax administration by an official for their personal benefit or for the benefit of another person shall be considered a breach of confidentiality.

The obligation of confidentiality does not apply to the taxpayer, as the principle of confidentiality is intended to protect and not restrict them. If necessary, the taxpayer may exempt the tax administrator or the person concerned from the obligation of confidentiality.

Another related and indispensable principle in tax administration is the principle of personal data collection. The tax administrator cannot avoid collecting personal data during tax proceedings, obtaining them directly from the individuals concerned, other data controllers, and publicly available sources. However, the tax administrator is entitled to collect only the personal data necessary for the administration of taxes and can thus only request information from taxpayers relevant to their activities and may only provide information about the taxpayer to another person or data controllers under specified conditions, such as for the purposes of criminal proceedings.