Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tax Collectors to snoop on homes

Tax collectors to snoop on Swale homes?

LOCAL Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Gordon Henderson, has said that he is “outraged” at news of a secret deal between the taxman and estate agents. It has been revealed that detailed information on 9 out of 10 house sales and rentals in Swale is being collected and logged in a ‘Big Brother’ database to prepare for council revaluation tax hikes.

· Estate agents and tax men plunder your data: Unsuspecting homeowners across Swale are putting their property on the market for sale or rental, without realising that the tax collectors will use it to plan for new council tax hikes. HM Revenue & Customs, which recently lost millions of personal tax and benefit records, is systematically raiding estate agency records to build up a property database for its council tax inspectors. Internet property company Rightmove Plc holds 16 million property records, with millions of individual entries being updated every month.

· Big Brother database invades privacy: People selling their home are not informed that property details given to their local estate agent, which are then passed to Rightmove Plc, are in turn passed on to the Government’s tax inspectors. Local estate agents in Swale have been kept in the dark about Rightmove’s actions.

· Details on people’s homes: The personal property data being passed to the taxmen include internal and external photographs of the home, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, conservatories, parking spaces homes have and particulars such as area, layout, style, features and other ‘value significant’ features. The Government claims that the Data Protection Act does not apply to information about people’s houses. HMRC’s council tax inspectors will instruct local councils to increase the council tax on these homes.

Mr Henderson said:
‘I am outraged at this abuse of official powers. We know that tax officers have recklessly lost the tax records of millions of law-abiding citizens, now the very same people are disregarding data protection rules to build up a chilling database of every home in the country.

‘Residents across Swale will be alarmed that the Government has entered a secret deal with Rightmove Plc to use information about house sales and rentals passed to it in good faith by local estate agents, without public consent and without the knowledge of those agents.

‘Gordon Brown must cancel this deal immediately, but, if he doesn’t, then a future Conservative Government will stop this data plundering of people’s private homes, end Brown’s stealth tax revaluation and abolish state inspectors’ rights of entry into our homes.’

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