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HMRC proposal to access taxpayers’ bank accounts in secret ‘condemned’

An HMRC proposal that would have allowed secret access to taxpayers’ bank accounts has been condemned as an “unreasonable invasion of taxpayers’ privacy”.

David Redfern, director of tax specialists DSR Tax Claims, has denounced the proposal and is urging HMRC to reconsider. He said that although HMRC is “correct to crack down on tax evasion which costs the UK extensively each year”, he believes the group is “overreaching its powers” with this latest proposal.

The proposal, released on 10 July, suggested allowing HMRC to have secret access to taxpayers’ banking information in order to find out whether the correct amount of tax has been paid.

Currently, HMRC can only access taxpayers’ financial information with the consent of the taxpayer, unless a tribunal order states otherwise, and financial institutions must notify customers that the group has requested access to their financial information.

Redfern added: “HMRC already has the right to access the financial information of taxpayers and can request an Information Order should the evidence deem it necessary – however, to allow HMRC to have secret access to financial information is an alarming suggestion and is a further step towards eroding the civil liberties of UK taxpayers.

“In seeking to access bank account information in secret, HMRC appears to be extending its powers in an intrusive and troubling manner”.

HMRC is accepting comments on the proposal until 2 October 2018.

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