HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Patient Confidentiality Protected

Dr Kathleen Long (a locum GP working on Scotland’s west coast) has won an HMRC tribunal which ruled that HMRC could not access her business diary to investigate her tax affairs; ie patient confidentiality has been protected.

Dr Long, having self-reported an error in her 2010/11 tax returns for her private hypnotherapy business, was asked by HMRC to produce her business diary in support of her self-assessment tax return.

Dr Long argued that such a demand would infringe on her patients’ confidentiality rights. HMRC conducted an internal review of the case, and determined that Dr Long could not use patient confidentiality as a defence against handing over the diary. However, at the tribunal the judge found that the business diary was unnecessary in the investigation of her tax affairs.

As per Pulse Today, Judge J Gordon Reid found that:
"Dr Long has been cooperative in relation to HMRC’s enquiries.

The appeal is allowed. Dr Long does not have to produce her business appointments diaries to HMRC."
He cited a ruling from a European Court of Human Rights case from 1997 that found:
"Respecting the confidentiality of health data is a vital principle in the legal systems of all the Contracting Parties to the Convention. It is crucial not only to respect the sense of privacy of a patient but also to preserve his or her confidence in the medical profession and in the health services in general."
Baker Tilly tax partner Andrew Hubbard said:
"I suspect that even if it hadn’t been a doctor’s case the tribunal might have said that was a step too far, but the fact that it was a doctor and confidential information I think weighed the balance even more in favour the confidentiality [being protected].

While this ruling doesn’t say that under any circumstances a doctor’s diary is sacrosanct, I suppose you could say it is a win for reasonableness.

I suspect the message to doctors is that these paragraphs do exist and you don’t want to get into the position that she did. I suspect Dr Long is rubbing her wounds, but she took one to ensure her patients’ affairs remained confidential."
A spokesperson for the HMRC said:
"We are considering the judgement."

Tax does have to be taxing.

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