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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Communications: Legislation: Finance Act 1989

Information given to the Board of HMRC is strictly confidential.

You are under a legal obligation to safeguard the confidentiality of all official information. However, this duty should not prevent us from explaining to taxpayers or their agents the basis of our tax calculations (IHTM02066).

FA1989/S182 makes it an offence to disclose

  • any information
  • about any identifiable person
  • which you hold or have held
  • in the exercise of duties relating to tax

FA1989/S182 (5) prescribes circumstances in which you may disclose the information lawfully.

You can disclose information if:

  • it is made ‘with lawful authority’ (defined in FA1989/S182 (6)), or
  • it is made with the consent of the taxpayer concerned, or
  • the information has been lawfully made available to the public before the disclosure is made.

The way this legislation operates is set down in

  • the general rule on disclosure (IHTM02031)
  • the detailed instructions for dealing with incoming telephone calls (IHTM02041) the procedure for disclosure (IHTM02061) of information.

A person who breaches the legal obligation to safeguard confidentiality and who is then found guilty of an offence by a court of law may be liable to imprisonment or a fine or both.