Freedom of Information Team
Mr Nathan Hamilton
Central Mail Unit
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Date: 06 August 2018
Dear Mr Hamilton Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Thank you for your email of 2 July 2018 asking HMRC to review how we handled your initial
information request. I am very sorry for the considerable delay in replying to you. Your request
On 30 May 2018, you requested the following information: “I need to understand how HMRC assessed the impact of the 2019 Loan Charge on those
tax payers who will be impacted by it. In particular the impact on their mental state, family
structure and future financial security.
Please provide any documents which detail
1) The assessment of the financial impact on tax payers including expected rates of
2) The assessment of the impact on the mental health of the impacted taxpayers.
3) The impact on those financially dependent on impacted taxpayers
4) The views of the senior officers who signed off on the proposal before presenting to
Unfortunately we failed to reply to your request. Internal review
On 2 July 2018, you wrote to HMRC stating our response had not been issued within the
statutory timeframe. You asked us to tell you how much longer you would have to wait and
for us to provide an explanation for the delay.
The purpose of an internal review is to consider whether your request was handled correctly
under the terms of the FOIA.
I have therefore conducted an investigation into the handling of your initial request for
information. My findings are below.
Following a search of our FOIA management system and related electronic records, I can
find no trace of your initial request for information. However, looking on the
whatdotheyknow.com website, I can see you made a request, the date of this request and
that the status of the request is ‘delivered’. This suggests your request was received by our
team in the correct manner but due to unknown circumstances it was never logged onto our
management system. I sincerely apologise for the poor service and subsequent delay that
this has caused you. I assure you that we are taking this error seriously and taking action to
ensure this does not happen again. Considerations
After receiving your request for an internal review I was able to trace your initial request for
information through the whatdotheyknow.com website. I have responded to your request
I can confirm that HMRC holds the information requested.
In response to questions 1 to 3, HMRC published its impact assessment in the Tax
Information and Impact Note (TIIN), first published at Autumn Statement 2016. The
assessment covers the impact on individuals, households and families. The latest version
can be found using the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disguised-
In response to question 4, the information you have requested is exempt from disclosure
under section 35(1)(a) of the FOIA because the information relates to the formulation of
government policy. The requested documents provided evidence and advice from which the
government formulated and developed its policy response to disguised remuneration (DR)
schemes. The government is currently considering how best to implement and enforce the
loan charge when it arises in April 2019.
In line with the terms of this exemption, we have also considered whether it would be in the
public interest for us to provide you with the information. In this case, we have concluded
that the public interest favours withholding the information.
When assessing whether or not it was in the public interest to disclose the information to
you, we took into account the following factors.
There is an inherent public interest in transparency and accountability of public authorities.
We also recognise the broad public interest in furthering public understanding of the issues
which public authorities deal with, such as the analysis you have requested.
However, there is a public interest in protecting the civil service’s ability to consider and
develop policies and to reach well-formed conclusions. The Information Commissioner has
recognised that policy development needs a degree of freedom to enable the process to
work effectively and we consider that there is a strong public interest in protecting
information where its release would be likely to have a detrimental impact on the ongoing
development of the policy.
There is also a public interest in preserving a ‘safe space’ to debate live policy issues away
from external interference and distraction is highest during the formulation and development
stages. Disclosure at this time may cause unhelpful debate based on an incomplete picture
of the policy and the relevant statistics. That in turn may distract officials from developing the
policies effectively and may close off better options from being considered.
There is a strong public interest in protecting against encroachment on the ability of officials
to develop policy options freely and frankly. In this case, the government is currently
considering how best to implement and enforce the loan charge.
We reached the view that, on balance, the public interest is better served by withholding this
information under section 35(1)(a) of the Act at this time. Conclusion
I have conducted an investigation into why no response was sent to you in response to your
initial request for information. During the investigation I found that no request was logged
even though we seemingly should have received it from the whatdotheyknow.com website. I
have now addressed your original request within this response and I hope you find this
If you are not content with the outcome of this internal review, you can complain to the
Information Commissioner’s Office. Their contact details are available at the following
Freedom of Information Team