The Chancellor's Tax Return

Tim Turner made this Freedom of Information request to HM Revenue and Customs

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by HM Revenue and Customs.

Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

On March 22nd, the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Whilst being interviewed, he stated that he did not pay the 50p tax rate.

As transparency is one of the hallmarks of the coalition, I would like to make an FOI request about this matter. I would like to request a copy of Mr Osbourne's most recent tax return, and any information from the current tax year that would indicate whether Mr Osbourne has in fact paid the 50p rate or not.

I accept that in any normal circumstances, the tax records of an individual are confidential, and are always subject to the Data Protection Act. However, I ask you to take into account the following considerations.

First, the Chancellor is in a unique position, even within government, and so his tax affairs are naturally a matter of significant public interest.

Second, the tax affairs of those who hold or who seek high office are already and currently a matter of significant public and political debate - discussions over the tax affairs of Ken Livingstone are a good example of this.

Third, in order to consider whether disclosure of the records would breach the Data Protection Act, one of the conditions for processing the data would be to seek Mr Osbourne's consent, and I would expect you to do this before refusing. Another condition is that there is a legitimate interest that would not cause unwarranted harm. Although the harm would be unwarranted for the vast majority of citizens including politicians not involved in setting the national budget, the harm to the Chancellor would not be unwarranted because of his specific role.

Finally, any concern about an actionable breach of confidence resulting from the disclosure would be balanced by the public interest defence HMRC would be able to put forward. Mr Osborne's tax affairs are already the subject of high-profile debate, demonstrating a strong public interest in disclosure.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Tim Turner

HM Revenue and Customs

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Dear Mr Turner,

Please find attached HMRC's response to your information request.

Yours sincerely

Teresa Chance
FOI Policy Adviser
Central Policy
Rm 1C/25
100 Parliament Street
London
SW1A 2BQ
Tel: 020 7147 3253
Fax: 020 7147 0666

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Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of HM Revenue and Customs's handling of my FOI request 'The Chancellor's Tax Return'.

Section 18 (2)(h) of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 states that information can be disclosed if the individual whose data is at issue consents to the disclosure. Therefore, if the Chancellor consents to the disclosure of the information, Section 44 would not apply. Given his recent positive public statements on the publication of the tax affairs of senior members of the government, I would have expected Mr Osbourne's consent to be solicited.

On this basis, I would like to request an internal review on the basis that Mr Osbourne should be asked for his permission. Clearly, if he withholds his permission, the exemption would apply.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/th...

Yours faithfully,

Tim Turner

HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Turner,

Please find attached HMRC's response to your review request.

Yours sincerely

Teresa Chance
FOI Policy Adviser
Central Policy
Rm 1C/25
100 Parliament Street
London
SW1A 2BQ
Tel: 020 7147 3253
Fax: 020 7147 0666

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