HMRC are now calling for the ability to get their hands on the financial information of self-employed workers without their permission! This is with the intention of tracking non-compliance and to ‘maximise revenues due’. However, many are describing that this is actually a massive breach of privacy.
Of course, currently, HMRC already have access to certain aspects of your data. This is including any information that is relevant to an individual’s VAT, Capital Gains Tax and Corporation tax. This is in order to ensure that they are paying the correct amount.
However, it’s not a simple process, and HMRC does have to go through several hurdles before they can get their hands on this information.
If the information is held by a third party, they first have to issue a ‘third party notice’. These parties can include lawyers, banks, accountants, estate agents, etc. And before they can even do this, the notice needs to be approved by a tax tribunal or the taxpayer themselves. And, even if a tribunal agrees that HMRC can keep their investigation secret, the third party is still within their rights to notify the taxpayer.
But, now, this could all change. Instead, HMRC would be able to look at your financial information and bank account without any sort of permission! This has been proposed in a document this month which suggests that these barriers/safeguards HMRC face should be removed.
The main proposals put across were:
– If a tribunal agrees that the investigation can be conducted without the taxpayer’s knowledge, then the third party would legally not be able to tell the taxpayer.
– Removal of needing permission from the taxpayer/tribunal prior to the issue of a third party notice. (A summary of the details needed would be given to the taxpayer).
As of yet, no decisions have been made. HMRC also added that if these proposals are agreed to, they would also only be applied to certain cases with as many as a few hundred investigated each year.
But, in a time where GDPR is ringing in everyone’s ears, what do you lot think of this? Is this a step too far in terms of our privacy? Let us know what you think in the comments below.