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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Communications: The general rule on disclosure and its operation: disclosing information to public bodies

Litigation Team (LT) has overall responsibility for confidentiality issues. If you are in any doubt about whether you can supply any information to another body you should discuss this with LT

Requests for information from the following bodies should be dealt with as follows:

HMIT, Special Compliance Investigation and other HMRC offices

You should establish that the office requesting the information has a genuine business need for it. You should also find out exactly what information they need. If possible you should take photocopies of the relevant information and say that you will send these rather than the whole file. Make sure that you follow the current data security instructions at when sending any information to another HMRC office. If the other office really needs to see the whole file you should refer the case to LT, who will deal with sending it to the other office securely. Any post you receive on a file that is on loan should be sent to LT, whilst the file is out of the office.

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Official Solicitor to the Supreme Court or Solicitor to the Duchy of Lancaster

You can give information without the usual consents. You should not send the file but give the precise information asked for in a memo. Any problems should be referred to LT.

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Public Trustee

You can give information without the usual consents, if the Public Trustee is acting under the Public Trustee Act 1906 as:

  • an administrator or trustee (under S.3) or
  • an investigator or auditor - under S.13(1)

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Official Receiver in Bankruptcy, or Trustee in Bankruptcy

If the deceased was a bankrupt we may give some information without consents to the Official Receiver in Bankruptcy or Trustee in Bankruptcy. Any requests of this kind need to be referred to Litigation Team, together with the file

If the Official Receiver or Trustee in Bankruptcy is acting in connection with the bankruptcy of someone other than the deceased (for example a beneficiary or executor) you must have the written consent of person who is entitled to disclosure. This may include the consent of the bankrupt person, if necessary

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The Director of Public Prosecutions, the Police, Criminal Investigation Department, H M Customs & Excise and the Treasury Solicitor

If any of these organisations ask us for information you should refer the request and the file to LT, who will consider what information can be sent.

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Courts, under court order, subpoena, witness summons or similar legal document

If you receive a request for the production of an Estate Duty/Capital Transfer Tax/Inheritance Tax document in Court you must without delay release any connected file, even if in use, and refer it to LT.

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Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), including investigations into benefit fraud, Local Authorities and National Minimum Wage Officers

You should immediately refer all requests for information to RISK, together with the file if there is one.

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Any other Government Department

You should refer any request for confidential information from any other Government Department not previously mentioned to LT, as soon as you receive it.