Wednesday 30 May 2012

Big Brother - HMRC's New Powers

The Register has a good article written by Amberhawk Training about new powers that will be granted to HMRC, if the Local Government Finance Bill now before Parliament is passed.

The bill, in its current form, permits the routine disclosure of tax records and other personal data held by HMRC to council officers for several council tax-related purposes.

The powers also allow HMRC to disclose such details directly to contractors of the council (eg, perhaps those IT service providers based overseas or in the cloud); this could permit tax details to go to many destinations outside the European Economic Area.

The argument used by the state is that these powers enable councils to get information directly from HMRC to check claims for reduced council tax, as opposed to having to ask for the same information again from the persons seeking the council tax reduction.

All very "helpful" and "considerate" of the state, maybe. However, there is already an exemption from the non-disclosure provisions in section 29 of the Data Protection Act that covers the “assessment or collection of any tax or duty...”; ie this data can be shared already.

The new bill will increase the data share between HMRC and councils and, as indicated above, spread that data to organisations outwith councils and the UK.

There is also one other rather interesting aspect of the proposed bill:
"There is a provision that states: “Regulations under this paragraph must not be made except with the consent of the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs”. This is the first time I have seen that the exercise of Ministerial Powers is to become subject to a veto by someone who is not the minister."
Is this a good idea to grant HMRC these extra powers?

I don't think so!

The state should be afraid of the people, the people should not be afraid of the state!

Tax does have to be taxing.

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1 comment:

  1. Can anyone trust a Council (and to be accurate I assume we are referring to a Local Authority – governed by the Data Protection Act), who just sent me an email and 45 others with ALL our email addresses ALL visible to everyone else (contrary to Data Protection Act and other Regulations)... and you expect us to trust any Local Authority with other personal details? I think not. LA's are even worse than HMRC and simply cannot be trusted.