Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ceisteanna (220)

Michael McGrath


220. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of times data relating to persons was shared by the Revenue Commissioners with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in each year since 2015, by category in tabular form; the nature of the data that was shared; the process involved by which the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is seeking data from the Revenue Commissioners relating to a person; if there has been and continues to be full compliance with data protection and the general data protection regulation in respect of such data sharing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33496/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Section 851A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 permits Revenue to disclose taxpayer information where, amongst other things, the disclosure is permitted by another enactment.  Section 851B(1)(d) provides a legal basis for the processing of taxpayer information, which includes disclosing the information or data by transmitting, disseminating or otherwise making it available.

 I am advised that Revenue and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) enjoy very close working relations and co-operate on a wide range of strategic and operational matters of mutual interest.  These arrangements are overseen by a long-established, high-level group of senior officials from both organisations that meets on a quarterly basis.

 I am further advised that the mutual exchange of data is a critical component in the effective and efficient functioning of both organisations.  A wide range and volume of data is, consequently, exchanged on both a systematic and a case specific basis, all of which is underpinned by extensive enabling legislation, principally, the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005.  Details of the relevant legislation are set out in the Table attached.  In addition, the exchange of information is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding agreed between Revenue and the DEASP and by signed Data Exchange Agreements which list the detail of the exchanges. 

Given the importance of taxpayer confidentiality to its activities, compliance with Data Protection (including GDPR) obligations is a major consideration for Revenue.  I am advised that Revenue continually reviews its data exchange arrangements, even where these are long-standing ones, to ensure that they are in keeping with best practice.  Where new sources of data are being exchanged, as happened recently with the introduction of realtime reporting of employment data by employers under PAYE Modernisation, Revenue will examine the detail of the proposed exchange to ensure that it adheres to all Data Protection requirements.

A summary of the data shared by Revenue with the DEASP is shown by category in the Table herewith.

I welcome the fact that the Data Sharing and Governance Act 2019 was recently enacted by the Oireachtas.  It provides greater opportunities for the public service to share data, subject to the necessary Data Protection safeguards, to increase the cohesiveness of the public service and to make citizens' live easier.   

I compliment Revenue and the DEASP for the way they have collaborated over many years in relation to data exchanges and this collaboration provides a tangible model for how data exchanges across the wider public service could be implemented under the terms of the new legislation.

Data Shared by Revenue