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HMRC internal manual

Information Disclosure Guide

Confidentiality when dealing with the customer: definition of 'customer'

HMRC’s customers include individuals, employers, employees, sole proprietors, partnerships and legal entities such as limited companies and trusts, whether in the UK or abroad. In this guidance ‘customers’ means all the individuals and organisations the department deals with in carrying out its functions.

These are examples of ‘customers’:

  • taxpayers (for taxation functions);
  • contributors (for National Insurance contributions, receiving and administering statutory sick pay and statutory maternity pay functions);
  • tax credit and child benefit recipients;
  • traders and businesses who are registered for VAT, PAYE, CT, aggregates levy etc;
  • excise traders such as breweries, distilleries, tobacco manufacturers, oil refineries, petrol filling stations etc;
  • importers and exporters of goods and services who have to make declarations and payments of customs duty and VAT;
  • members of the public who come into contact with officers at ports and airports etc

You have an equal duty of confidentiality to deceased customers.

You have an equal duty of confidentiality to those who you think behave legally and those who you think do not (including suspects and offenders).