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HMRC internal manual

Information Disclosure Guide

HM Revenue & Customs
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Sharing information within HMRC

You may share information between the former Customs and former Revenue parts of the department so long as there is a business need to do so. (For these purposes the Valuation Office is a former Revenue part of the department.)

This chapter does not cover disclosing to Revenue and Customs Prosecuting Office (RCPO) or disclosure in HMRC Tribunals. Please see IDG54300 and IDG40510 respectively.

Sharing information within HMRC as prescribed by the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005
Bogus callers
Information which may not be shared internally
Further guidance

Sharing information within HMRC as prescribed by the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005

HMRC officers are subject to a statutory duty of confidentiality provided for by the CRCA (see IDG40120). This means you cannot disclose information about HMRC customers except in specific circumstances.

CRCA further sets out that HMRC officers may share information they hold with other HMRC officers. Section 17 CRCA states:

“Information acquired by the Revenue and Customs in connection with a function may be used by them in connection with any other function.”

This means that, with a few exceptions (see below), any information held by one part of the department may be passed to any other part of the department provided there is a business need. Business need means that there is a valid reason, directly connected to HMRC’s functions, for information to be passed from one person to another. There will not be a business need where information is passed from one person to another because that information may be personally interesting.

Information that is properly obtained under a Section 20 Taxes Management Act (TMA) notice is also covered by Section 17 CRCA and may be passed to another part of the department where there is a valid business need. The business need may be in respect of the same taxpayer or in relation to the tax affairs of others. You may only disclose the minimum information required to enable another business area to carry out its functions.

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If you receive a request for information from another part of HMRC for customer information you may disclose that information provided there is a business need. If you are not convinced of the business need from the request you have received, ask your line manager or Data Guardian.

If you are aware of information about HMRC customers that would benefit another part of HMRC, talk to your line manager about passing this information on.  Practically speaking there are a number of efficient ways of doing this within HMRC. For example:

  • You can approach the business area that you think might benefit from the information directly.
  • You can pass the information on to your local Risk team (RIAT or Sift teams) who will target the information to the most appropriate people in the department.
  • Allegations received from outside the department about tax, benefit offences, smuggling, criminal offences regulatory breaches or non-compliance must be reported to the National Humint Centre (NHC). Further information and guidance can be found on the Human Intelligence Intranet pages.

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Bogus callers

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) Customer Adviser Guide(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

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Information which may not be shared internally

Double tax treaty information

Information received from an overseas tax authority under a bilateral agreement such as a double taxation treaty can, in most cases, only be used for the purposes of a direct tax function. However, information received from a tax authority in another EU Member State under an EC instrument concerning mutual assistance or administrative co-operation in the tax field may be used for the majority of HMRC’s tax functions (but may not be used for, or disclosed to a person concerned with, a non-tax function).

Isle of Man

Information received from the Isle of Man customs and excise service under its bilateral agreement with HMRC regarding mutual assistance in the field of customs and excise may only be used in connection with one of HMRC’s functions in this field.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Information received under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002 may be shared more widely within the Department, but the rules governing such disclosures depend on its form. Information held on Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) is considered to be sensitive and can only be disclosed to others within the Department on a 5x5x5 intelligence log, completed by an appropriately qualified officer. Those wishing to make a disclosure under these circumstances should follow the correct 5x5x5 procedure and place the appropriate marker on the Elmer system for future identification.

Information gathered by HMRC staff under POCA at a port/airport can be disclosed to any other areas of HMRC, but must still be done so using the 5x5x5 procedure. Other forms of information received under POCA, such as those provided to the department by order of a court of law, can be disclosed to any other area of HMRC when there is a business need to do so without the use of a 5x5x5 intelligence log. Please see Proceeds of Crime Act Guidance forfurther detail on using information received under POCA.

Information obtained under Section20(2) Taxes Management Act (TMA) 1970

Information obtained under a S20(2) TMA notice cannot be used elsewhere if a claim to Legal Professional Privilege could be sustained e.g. information obtained from a lawyer under a S 20(2) TMA notice cannot be used in relation to a client’s tax affairs where the information could not be obtained under a S20(3) TMA notice.

If you have this type of information - or other types of information which may not be shared freely - it should always be clearly marked. If you have any doubts, then ask your manager first.

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Further guidance

Please contact Risk & Intelligence Double Taxation Treaties for further guidance on information received under a double taxation treaty. See IDG80100 for contact details.

Please contact your Data Guardian if you are unsure of any of the issues covered in this guidance, or you are unclear as to whether certain information may be shared within the department.