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
    +3

    Comment number 569.

    So the fact that on the census form I said I did not consent to my data being used has been totally ignored.

    So much for the data protection act.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 568.

    Was feeling a bit down last night after a hard day at work.....

    Askedm y friend to tell me a joke to cheer me up.

    He Said............The United Kingdom.

    And we all laughed.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 567.

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

    The final decision is not for you to take Mr or Mrs HMRC spokesman . Just remember your place for once.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 566.

    Big brother helping us to get screwed over by business yet again
    You want to hand out my data then you ask my permission
    email to be sent to my MP objecting to this. lol like that would do any good

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 565.

    10) I've read this article 3 times, and I can't see where its says WHY the HMRC want to sell our data and WHY it's in the public interest.

    Answer...

    1) To help the bodies listed boost the economy

    2) Raise money for the exchequer, allowing the government to:-

    a) Cut taxes
    b) Spend more on public services
    c) Reduce the deficit

    But the devil is in the (as yet) unknown detail...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 564.

    With each passing the day the UK government pushes me closer and closer to voting YES for independence.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 563.

    Are there no depths to which this government won't sink to make money out of the general public? I don't think I need an answer to that one. What an appalling idea.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 562.

    10.engineer-neil
    Dont' expect any real journalism here , the BBC just repeats what the govt. tells them

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 561.

    DATA PROTECTION CLEARLY MEANS NOTHING TO THESE HALFWITS!!!!
    I HOPE YOU'RE PROUD OF YOUR LATEST DOH!! MOMENT.
    I'M SO GLAD WE CAN ALL TRUST YOU......

  • rate this
    +87

    Comment number 560.

    As previously stated, this information is not their's to share. It has been not been given freely, it has been provided to comply with legal obligations.

    Surely the HMRC would be required to seek our permission to reveal this data, permission I would not give.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 559.

    To even propose this as an idea is frankly disgusting. HMRC have demonstrated a total inability to do their basic job correctly, the system is rotten to the core.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 558.

    Why should the govt know what I earn anyway. I mean why should you and I, or businesses, be taxed for working and earning dosh? Tax is a disincentive to work, to produce stuff. It distorts economic decisions, costs a fortune to collect and has given rise to a city full of tax avoidance firms. Stop taxing us producers and you don't need the expense of collecting, and storing, all this info.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 557.

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

    What a pack of lies. Once that information is out there, it's a little late for court proceedings against the powerful information owners/holders of our personal information held globally.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 556.

    Yet another Organisation that you're forced to provide data to who will be selling the info on and making a fair bit of profit from such activities. Will the tax rate be going down as a result of them selling on info you have no choice but to provide? Stupid question, since the answer will be "No" as usual. Sell the info on with not a care how the info may be used...

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 555.

    How dare they even think about it? Therein lies the problem. They dare. But why do they dare? They smell money? Naive beyond belief!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 554.

    542. Steve
    That doesn't answer the question as to why someone should bother to work hard if there is no reward at the end of it. Innovators ARE vital to society, and the fact that they can become rich by innovating is what spurs them on. What you're proposing is tantamount to Communism and we all know where that leads. It would certainly fit in well with running roughshod over privacy!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 553.

    There's money to be made so makes no difference what we say. We are just as our passport says SUBJECTS and as such they can do what they like with us as we have let them win.

  • rate this
    -14

    Comment number 552.

    who cares

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 551.

    Was this not the same HMRC who lost everyone's data on CD's in jiffy bags in the post a few years ago?, so here we have the same outfit now apparently going to protect our data "anonymously" before being handed to private firms!, oh seriously who are they kidding?, you tell that to jonnie foreigner sat with the jiffy bag stuffed full of our data merrily swindling our identities!

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 550.

    Big brother is watching you - stop worrying about the Tories and start reading about Kate's shoes - you know, the one's we bought...

    People should stop thinking and allow the process of brainwashing and control to perpetuate. I wish I lived in Chipping Norton, what a lovely suit David's wearing today. Isn't Kate Middleton pretty...etc

 

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