Introduction: purpose of Guidance
The Information Policy and Disclosure Team, part of Central Policy, is responsible for HMRC’s policy on confidentiality and disclosure of HMRC information within the UK. We provide advice, guidance and support to business areas within HMRC and other government departments to enable them to meet their objectives whilst remaining compliant with our policy and legal confidentiality obligations.
HMRC holds a large amount of information about our customers, much of which is personal. This information is protected by legislation and Section 18 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (CRCA) makes it clear that you must not give (‘disclose’) HMRC information to anyone, unless you have lawful authority to do so. This includes other government departments and their agencies, local authorities, the police, any other public bodies, agents and members of the public.
This manual will provide you with guidance on the circumstances in which information may be disclosed outside HMRC, and within HMRC. Please read and understand the guidance in this manual before making any disclosures of HMRC information.
Following this guidance will help you to disclose in a lawful way. Unlawful disclosure of HMRC information can be a disciplinary offence or a criminal offence liable to a fine, imprisonment or both
If, after reading the guidance, you are still unsure about whether or not you have lawful authority to make a disclosure, you should contact your Data Guardian.
When writing to your Data Guardian please include a description of your enquiry in the subject heading (for example, ‘Disclosure to Trading Standards’). You should then provide full details about the issue.
If your Data Guardian is unable to answer your query they will get in touch with the Information Policy and Disclosure Team via the ‘ccp, disclosure (CenPOL Information Policy and Disclosure)’ mailbox for advice. Please note that the Information Policy and Disclosure Team do not provide advice on:
- disclosure of material in criminal proceedings (for which see Disclosure (CPIA) in the Enforcement Handbook)
- international disclosures (but please see IDG80200 which shows some examples of teams who deal with international matters)
- disclosure of material from other public bodies to HMRC (but you will need to be aware of the guidance at IDG30420).