Budget 09: ‘name and shame’ initiative may violate human rights

budget box

Firms have criticised
HM Revenue &
‘naming and shaming’ initiative trailed in the Budget as not being
cost effective and potentially falling foul of human rights legislation.

The government is looking to save up to £80m by 2012 through the initiative.

Legislation being introduced in the finance bill will enable HMRC to publish
a quarterly list of names and details of individuals and companies who have been
penalised for deliberate defaults leading to a loss of tax of more than £25,000.

Names will be published within one year of the penalty becoming final and
removed from publication one year later.

Mike Downs, head of tax investigations at Baker Tilly, called the HMRC
proposals a ‘tax ASBO’. He believes the initiative is part of a bigger picture
on tax non-payment such as plans to target ‘off-shore evaders’.

Bill Dodwell, tax partner at Deloitte, said that naming and shaming would not
have a big impact on raising tax revenues.

He added that he doubted whether the full human rights implications of the
had been considered.

Ernst & Young tax partner Chris Oates warned that the principle of
confidentiality would be ‘blown out the water’ by the legislation.

He said: ‘HMRC will disclose taxpayers’ names, addresses, occupations and
other tax information in quarterly lists.’

Related reading