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1.1 The VOA’s policy on the disclosure of information is governed by the general policy of the Board of Inland Revenue and a full explanation of the background to the policy can be found in Section 6 of the Operations Manual and the Customer Service Manual. The personal obligation on staff to safeguard the confidentiality of all official information is contained in Staff Handbook paragraph 9.4.
1.2 The basic principle behind the policy is that information provided by law for taxation purposes should not be disclosed to anyone outside the Inland Revenue unless the taxpayer gives their consent. This principle is embodied in Section 6(4) of the Taxes Management Act 1970 which requires every person appointed by the Board of Inland Revenue to act in any capacity to make the following declaration:
"I, A.B., do solemnly declare that I will not disclose any information received by me in the execution of the duties which may from time to time be assigned to me by the Board of Inland Revenue except for the purposes of my duties, or to the Board of Inland Revenue or in accordance with their instructions, or for the purposes of any prosecution for an offence relating to inland revenue, or in such other cases as may be required by law".
1.3 The principle has since been reinforced by Section 182 of the Finance Act 1989 which makes it a criminal offence for any Revenue official to disclose information about the tax affairs of an identifiable individual or business, without proper authority.
1.4 Essentially the policy is that, in the absence of the taxpayer’s consent, caseworkers may only give information about taxpayers affairs to someone outside the Inland Revenue either:
a) When a Court Order requiring disclosure and binding on the Crown is served on us.
b) For the purposes of a prosecution for an offence against the Inland Revenue (ie. tax fraud cases).
c) When authorised to do so by the Board of Inland Revenue in response to a witness summons or a subpoena served in respect of legal proceedings.
d) To the Police in cases of murder or treason or in response to requests made under the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA). Caseworkers should note that any requests made under the ACTSA must be referred to DV Services CEO Revenue Section.
e) When the confidentiality obligation is specifically overridden by statute (eg. Section 21(1) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 for Council Tax purposes and Section 127 of the Finance Act 1972, which allows us to share certain information with Customs & Excise).
2.1 Purchasers of property, or their representatives, are required to supply the information contained in PD forms to the Inland Revenue under Section 28 of the Finance Act 1931 (as modified by the Land Commission Act 1967 and the Finance Act 1985). As this information is supplied to the Inland Revenue for tax purposes PD forms are covered by the above confidentiality policy.
2.2 Information obtained from a PD is confidential and must not be disclosed to anyone who was not a party to the transaction, except:
a) In the limited circumstances referred to in paragraph 1.4 above.
b) When the information is deemed to already be in the public domain (see paragraph 3 of this Practice Note).
c) When limited disclosure of historic information is authorised by the Board for the purposes of carrying out valuations for the Inland Revenue (see paragraph 4 of this Practice Note).