Sharing information outside of HMRC: legal obligations: Criminal Sanction under section 19 CRCA
Unlawful disclosure of information is a criminal offence under Section 19 Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (CRCA). Unlawful disclosure occurs when HMRC information is disclosed in a way not in accordance with section 18 or section 20 CRCA (see IDG40120).
There will be many occasions where it will be beneficial to the department, or to others, to share information. However, you must ensure you have the lawful authority to do so.
Deliberately wrongful or negligent disclosure can lead to disciplinary action, which may lead to dismissal. It can also be a criminal offence, punishable on conviction by a fine, imprisonment of up to 2 years, or both.
This guidance sets out how to maintain customer confidentiality (see IDG30000) and in what circumstances you are allowed to share confidential information (see IDG40000). If you deal with confidential information you must yourself be familiar with the provisions of this guidance that might affect your work.
It is important to realise that confidentiality is your personal responsibility. As such any penalties for breach of confidentiality fall on you personally.
If you are in any doubt whether information is confidential or whether to disclose it you should always seek further guidance. In the first instance speak to your manager. If further guidance or assistance is needed contact your Data Guardian.