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 Care.data 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
    +37

    Comment number 349.

    I rather think that HMRC should be prioritising catching tax cheats and closing loopholes that the big corporate tax cheats and non-doms use, rather than this idiotic scheme. That would be far more beneficial to the nation

    Not that I can see any of the newspapers being keen on that, though...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 348.

    No surprised at this - HMRC arrogance at its absolute best.

  • Comment number 347.

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

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 346.

    Almost thought this was an article on North Korea.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 345.

    To put it mildly a very sad state of affairs indeed. Over the many years of being a tax adviser I have always told clients how much HMRC 'respect' taxpayer confidentiality and privacy, this is now proving to be a wobbly statement. HMRC employ the services of a number of private debt collections agencies, in addition less training is given to staff, funding has been cut & their social skills vary

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 344.

    Yet another example of the state being an oppressive fascist entity whose sole purpose is to protect and service the international elite capitalists who hide their money away but have zero shame in quantifying the average persons data as a commodity. The 1% don't care about civil liberties all they want is more money.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 343.

    Is it just me or does the article not explain 'why' HMRC would share data?

    Is it for profit? Can't think why else they would dedicate resource and time to organising this.

    We need some consistency about who owns data. If I distribute data concerning the government, I am a criminal. If they distribute data concerning me, they are creating revenue.

    Doesn't seem fair.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 342.

    Typical public sector employees, prepared to do things not in the interests of the people who pay them. A moment thinking would tell a sane person this is a stupid idea. The official's comments show how little they care. "Public benefit" - will be outweighed by the risk; "robust safeguards" - none will be robust enough to fully protect. If they doubt this, ask for insurance and see what's quoted.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 341.

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

    That's all right then because as we all the know the prisons are full of public servants who have misused our data - I wish !!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 340.

    Its not right to be able to sell someone's data without their consent. Especially as they won't get a cut

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 339.

    Its called socialism

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 338.

    They can stick it up their tax returns.

    UK is becoming like USA, as reported today, not a democracy but an oligarchy whereby business drives & controls the vast majority of government policys & laws & to benefit themselves & citizens are collateral incidentals such as selling our PRIVATE information to businesses.

    I would like to hear ConDems & Liebours views on what democracy actually is

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 337.

    .


    This dog of a Tory led coalition know the cost of everything but the value of nothing...



    ...their only apparent raison d'etra is to make their already obscenely rich friends on banking/big business even more stinkingly rich at the ordinary bloke in the street's expense...



    .

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 336.

    Another clueless Tory idea.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 335.

    If this were to become practice in the UK, then one good reason to get OUT – Scottish voters please note. Alternatively, if we remain IN, then this would give a legitimate reason for withholding one’s tax returns and to insist on any interest earned from investments to be paid gross.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 334.

    Who on earth is going to want to sanction their own records going public? This applies to the person or persons actually wanting this to go ahead. It makes no sense. What do they gain from actually even thinking about this let alone doing it? Who in the government or opposition or Lords will want to vote in favour of this and what reason?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 333.

    Scary to think that we have the mindless idiots who come up with this type of scam living amongst us. Just think, you may have one in YOUR neighbourhood!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 332.

    Outrageous - if they want to sell my data, then they should consult me, and if I agree, I should be paid, as well. Same for my medical data.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 331.

    Under the Data Protection Act I'm afraid this is not on. If I choose to share information about myself with others that's up to me it is not for the Government to sell my details without my permission to who ever they see fit.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 330.

    This is not lunacy. It is theft. Just another way to milk the tax payer which is itself immoral. I.e. taking without consent. Try not consenting to taxation and then see if it is by consent. Google (larken rose the whole problem) 2 minute video that says it all.

 

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