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Withdrawal of national heritage asset condition exemption from tax

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Duncan Dollimore

Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

Your website provides information about tax relief for national heritage assets https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tax-relief-f..., commonly referred to as conditional exemption, and indicates that if the owner of an asset does not keep to the agreement reached with HMRC to allow access to the public, the conditional exemption from tax is withdrawn and the tax must be paid.

Please confirm, for each of the last seven tax years:

1. How many cases HMRC has investigated where the withdrawal of heritage asset conditional exemption has been considered?
2. How many heritage asset conditional exemptions have been withdrawn?

Yours faithfully,

Duncan Dollimore
Head of campaigns, Cycling UK

WMBC FOI Mailbox, HM Revenue and Customs

Our ref: FOI2021/07806

Dear Mr Dollimore,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 22nd April which has been passed to
HMRC's Freedom of Information Team.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

The Team will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either
comply with HMRC's obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we
think it's an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the
Act, let you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it
on to a more appropriate part of the Depa rtment for answer.

As you will appreciate, the coronavirus pandemic has provided
unprecedented challenges for Government Departments including HMRC. Over
the coming weeks our priorities are to provide critical existing and new
Public Services for Government to support customers during this difficult
time. As a result, resources may be diverted away from usual compliance or
information rights work. HMRC aims to respond to all FOIA Requests within
20 working days. If for whatever reason this timescale cannot be complied
with HMRC will, where possible, write to you explaining the reason for the
delay and providing an estimated time for response.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Act Team

FOI Central Team, HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Dollimore,

We are writing in response to your request for information, received 22
April.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

Duncan Dollimore

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 'Withdrawal of national heritage asset condition exemption from tax'.

You confirm in your letter dated 17 May 2021 that HMRC does hold the information I requested, namely, for each of the last seven tax years:

1. How many cases HMRC has investigated where the withdrawal of heritage asset
conditional exemption has been considered?
2. How many heritage asset conditional exemptions have been withdrawn?

The answer to each of those questions should be a number, and you implicitly accept that in your acknowledgement that “the quantity of cases are low”.

Nevertheless, you have refused to provide the information requested, relying upon the confidentiality exemption provided within section 44(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act.

As the guidance from the Information Commissioner makes clear, information is covered by the section 41 exemption if:

1. It was obtained by the authority from any other person.
2. Its disclosure would constitute a breach of confidence.
3. A legal person could bring a court action for that breach of confidence, and
4. That court action would be likely to succeed.

I have not asked for disclosure of the details of any investigation, or any tax records. In fact, the information I have requested is not even information provided to HMRC by any other person. Both of my questions focus on what HMRC has done, not what has been provided to it, and can be answered without the disclosure of any information which has been provided to HMRC which might be considered confidential information.

The distinction is clear from the overview information within the Commissioner’s guidance, which states that when determining if disclosure would constitute a breach of confidence, the authority will usually need to consider:

1. Whether the information has the quality of confidence.
2. Whether it was imparted in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence.
3. Whether disclosure would be an unauthorised use of the information to the detriment of the confider.

The detail of investigations and the information provided therein may be confidential, but the number undertaken cannot be, and the answers to my questions do not involve the disclosure of anything provided to HMRC in confidence.

I therefore request an internal review of the refusal to provide the information requested.

Yours faithfully

Duncan Dollimore
Head of campaigns, Cycling UK

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

WMBC FOI Mailbox, HM Revenue and Customs

Our ref: IR2021/11335

Dear Mr Dollimore,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 21st May which has been passed to
HMRC's Freedom of Information Team.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

The Team will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either
comply with HMRC's obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we
think it's an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the
Act, let you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it
on to a more appropriate part of the Departm ent for answer.

As you will appreciate, the coronavirus pandemic has provided
unprecedented challenges for Government Departments including HMRC. Over
the coming weeks our priorities are to provide critical existing and new
Public Services for Government to support customers during this difficult
time. As a result, resources may be diverted away from usual compliance or
information rights work. HMRC aims to respond to all FOIA Requests within
20 working days. If for whatever reason this timescale cannot be complied
with HMRC will, where possible, write to you explaining the reason for the
delay and providing an estimated time for response.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Act Team

Duncan Dollimore

Dear WMBC FOI Mailbox,

I have already requested an internal review of the refusal to provided the information requested concerning the withdrawal of conditional exemptions from tax.

I neglected to include within that request my submission that my request should also be considered as a request under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) 2004.

HMRC have declined to provide the information requested on the basis that the prohibition on disclosure under section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) applies, because disclosure is prohibited by section 23(1) of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (CRCA).

Without at this stage accepting HMRC's assertion regarding section 44 FOIA and section 23(1) CRCA, I would respectfully point out that the information requested, which concerns access to land, is clearly environmental information within the meaning of regulation 2 of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) 2004.

Whilst I acknowledge that I did submit my request with reference to FOIA rather than the EIR, the guidance clearly indicates that where the information requested from a public body is environmental, that the request must be handled under the EIR. There is no equivalent to section 44 FOIA in the EIR, and regulation 5(6) of the EIR specifically states that "any enactment or rule of law that would prevent disclosure of information in accordance with these regulations shall not apply".

In those circumstances, my request should have been dealt with under the EIR if HMRC believed the section 44 FOIA exemption applied, and the information must be disclosed unless exempt by virtue of an exception within the EIR, none of which apply.

I would therefore be grateful if my request could also be reconsidered as an EIR request.

Yours faithfully

Duncan Dollimore
Head of campaigns, Cycling UK

FOI Central Team, HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Dollimore,

We are writing in response to your request for information, received 21
May.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Duncan Dollimore please sign in and let everyone know.