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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Conditions and safeguards: Restrictions: Personal records

You cannot require a person to

  • produce personal records, or
  • provide information from personal records.

‘Personal records’ is more limited than it sounds. It is defined in Section 12 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and means records concerning any individual’s physical, mental, spiritual or personal welfare.

‘Personal records’ information in itself is not normally required to check a tax position. However, some medical professionals keep mixed medical and financial records despite advice from their professional bodies to keep them separate.

Where ‘personal records’ contain mixed information you can require the person to provide the information that does not relate to any individual’s welfare.

This can be done by omitting the information that makes the document ‘personal records’. If you require a ‘personal records’ document to be produced or inspected, the welfare information can be covered up, or redacted, so that you cannot see it.

Any document that contains welfare information is very sensitive. It follows that there is a strong presumption in favour of personal privacy. Before you use the information or inspection powers to seek access to documents or information that may be contained in personal records, you must discuss your case with Central Policy (Tax Administration Advice), see CH22200.

FA08/SCH36/PARA19 (2) & (3)