Spouse or Partner

HMRC will always hope to obtain information from spouses or partners on a voluntary basis. Obtaining such information is a sensitive matter and must not be done in such a way that breaches the person’s rights under Art. 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

The ECHR gives everyone the right to respect for:-

  • their private and family lives
  • their home
  • their correspondence


However, a degree of intrusion is permitted of the intrusion is:-

  • in accordance with the law
  • necessary in democratic society
  • in pursuit of a legitimate aim.


HMRC’s action must therefore be proportionate to the need. This means that the nature and extent of the intrusion must be reasonable in the circumstances of the particular case and it must be restricted to the minimum necessary to achieve HMRC’s aim.

Information and documents held by a spouse or partner are confidential to them and can only be requested from them, not from the taxpayer, without breaching their right to privacy. A high expectation of privacy attaches to them so that the justification for asking for them must be very strong.

To be proportionate, in a smaller case HMRC should restrict their request to asking the taxpayer for a statement of gifts or loans between the spouses or partners. Where the private side is considered to be more important to the enquiry, details will be requested of the spouse or partner’s income and gains, assets and personal expenditure.

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