The taxman’s claim that his plan to sell the personal details of millions of people will only go ahead if there is a ‘public interest’ doesn’t appear to wash with taxpayers, as most are against the initiative.
In fact, 86 per cent of people surveyed by Baker Tilly say they oppose the proposals by HM Revenue & Customs to sell taxpayers’ financial data to private firms, while only 14 per cent said they agreed.
The accountancy firm said the results would deal a further blow to Treasury minister David Gauke, who has faced concerns by civil liberties groups and MPs over the risks in sharing such sensitive information.
In an attempt to head off any backlash, HMRC has stressed that any data sold to third parties, including companies, researchers and public bodies, would be anonymised and have to generate clear public benefits.
But the tax department has got its priorities wrong, believes George Bull, senior tax partner at Baker Tilly, chiming with what the overwhelming majority of the survey respondents seem to think.
He said: “After a number of high-profile service failures, HMRC should now be concentrating on rebuilding trust with the taxpayers whose affairs it is trusted to administer, not undermining that trust with plans to sell their data.”