HMRC 'plans to share tax data with private firms'

HM Revenue & Customs logo HMRC says further consultation on the plans will take place

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Taxpayers' personal data could be shared with private firms under plans drawn up by Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

If given the go-ahead it would allow HMRC to release anonymous tax data to third parties including companies, researchers and public bodies.

But former Conservative minister David Davis told the Guardian the plans were "borderline insane".

An HMRC spokesman said "no final decisions" had been taken, and it was committed to "confidentiality".

'Defies logic'

The newspaper reported that "charging options" were being examined by officials, suggesting that firms could pay to access the data.

But concern has been raised over the plans in the wake of the initiative - a proposed anonymous sharing of NHS medical records - which is currently suspended after fears were raised as to exactly what information would remain anonymous.

Start Quote

You would have hoped HMRC would have learned that trying to sneak plans like this under the radar is not the way to build trust or develop good policy”

End Quote Emma Carr Big Brother Watch

Plans to relax the laws around HMRC data-sharing - which are being overseen by Treasury minister David Gauke - were first consulted on in July last year, but HMRC said "further consultations" would also be taking place.

Mr Davis told the Guardian: "The officials who drew this up clearly have no idea of the risks to data in an electronic age.

"Our forefathers put these checks and balances in place when the information was kept in cardboard files, and data was therefore difficult to appropriate and misuse.

"It defies logic that we would remove those restraints at a time when data can be collected by the gigabyte, processed in milliseconds and transported around the world almost instantaneously."

Emma Carr, deputy director of civil rights campaign group, Big Brother Watch, said: "The ongoing claims about anonymous data overlook the serious risks to privacy of individual level data being vulnerable to re-identification.

"Given the huge uproar about similar plans for medical records, you would have hoped HMRC would have learned that trying to sneak plans like this under the radar is not the way to build trust or develop good policy."

'Unlawful disclosure'

A HMRC spokesman said: "HMRC would only share data where this would generate clear public benefits, and where there are robust safeguards in place.

"Last year's consultation made it very clear that there would be a rigorous accreditation process for anyone wanting access to the data and that any access would take place in a secure environment.

"Those accessing data would be subject to the same confidentiality provisions as HMRC staff, including a criminal sanction for unlawful disclosure of taxpayer information."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    As the HMRC has not asked me for my approval of giving out my information, I DO NOT WANT ANY INFORMATION RELATING TO ME TO BE GIVEN OR SOLD TO OTHER PARTIES.

    On another note, are they going to pay the individual when information is given out?
    Somehow I don't think they will.
    If they want more revenue, start by catching those who cheat the system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    Here we go again - another government body having no conception of its responsibilities to the public. This should stop, and stop now, and there needs to be stringent rules on the security of this kind of information. Astonishing that this comes only a few weeks after a similar data debacle in the NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Not quite the same as the medical records, but it all points in the same direction. Government can rightly demand some personal information for its own purposes, but that right carries the responsibility to respect the privacy of those forced to give it. I'm sick of politicians telling us that this or that incursion on our personal space is good for the country because its good for business

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    thats deplorable. A rigorous vetting process? Like the one recently that the Dept of BIS conducted when it sold the recent student loans to a company called Erudio Student Loans, formerly, Honours Student Loans. Search online and look up Erudio and the problems ex-students are having as you read this, they have been given personal data and seemingly anything they want to do with ex-students data.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    Stop this stupidity now !

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    As appalling as it is unsurprising. The private sector can do no wrong in the eyes of the Government - after all, the profit motive is the only arbiter of decency!

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    I can see no requirement for this whatsoever. What good will it do me? This is just another money making scam to allow any bent accountant, solicitor or fraudster information about my financial affairs. Just like the Vehicle Licencing Authority sells information to parking companies. It is wrong like most of what Cameron and his clowns have come up with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Unbelievable! this isn’t some idea thought up by a faceless bureaucrat but obviously the minster responsible has floated the idea to make more money for their pals in the private sector, nothing is sacrosanct to this money grubbing Government

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    this would be a blatent abuse of privilege
    we have no choice in providing information to government departments
    the least our parliament can do is to insist it is unlawful to release it to anyone

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    I agree with your sentiment but the government has a bad record of selling things off, you obviously failed to notice I never said I agree with it and I fully support your stated position, The government always says about the market but this is dropped when the market makes a loss and the taxpayer has to subsidise the beloved market of the governing parties friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    We already have individually numbered voting papers.

    Next time you vote have a look at your ballot paper.
    It has a number on it.
    That information will be sold to canvassers next.
    In order to efficiently target sales literature.

    And whatever nefarious reasons our lords and masters think fit.

    And we are told the numbering is there to avoid fraud.
    I think we are past that stage now.

    Linked lists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    This is lunacy. We share our information with government confidentially. We have data protection laws to ensure it is not misused. Now this government encourages departments with appalling track records in data security to sell it to the highest bidder. It is our data not theirs! There's an election coming you know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    When is it that the people of this country are going to be properly represented by government. I'm pretty confident that the vast majority of us want similar things - eg right to privacy of our data, that corporations pay their taxes, that banks pay for their mistakes, that fracking is banned, that HS2 is not just shoved down our throats - what do we have to do to be listened to?

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    This is too ridiculous to be a genuine suggestion. Is this meant to distract us from something?

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    Just wrong on every level imaginable

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    Edward Snowden was 100% right...thanks to him we have learned to stay more private through electronic communications. Much of our work is now done face to face because of these intrusive agencies who monitor us 24/7.

  • Comment number 293.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    Does the data protection act mean nothing? If any company decided it was going to sell off customer data without permission they would be in so much hot water, but the government just sees us as a commodity to be traded

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    In my opinion it depends of the level if detail included in the information - If it is to give an accurate forecast of average income in a particular region for example then it could be used positively. If on the other hand it only stops short of giving your name and address (which I'd doubt) then HELL NO!
    There isn't much info to go on here and it really sounds more like scaremongering to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    I've no worries. The DVLA have done a great job of selling car keeper details to ex-clampers and rogue ticketers, and are rigorous in wheedling out such dodgy companies.

    Oh wait...


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