HMRC sacks hundreds of officers for failing to protect taxpayer data

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The tax authority formally sanctioned more staff for failing to protect taxpayer data last year than at any time in the past five years.

HM Revenue & Customs fired 40 staff for data security breaches and issued written warnings to 95 in 2020-2021. More than 200 workers have been fired for data security misconduct since 2016, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the newspaper.

William Wilson of Accountants Price Bailey said the news would worry taxpayers who trust the tax administration to protect their sensitive information.

“The number of HMRC employees fired or sanctioned for data breaches is at a five-year high. This likely reflects the greater risks associated with working from home,” he said.

HMRC has dismissed nearly 770 staff over the past five years for various offenses. Almost 70 of them lost their jobs because of problems with their own tax affairs or with their claims.

About 30 of them were dismissed for payroll related misconduct, including misuse of HMRC expense accounts. Most have been asked to leave on “terms of service”, such as not showing up for work.

More than 300 people lost their jobs and nearly 920 received written warnings of misconduct regarding the terms of their service.

Some 74 were fired due to issues in their private lives – defined as “issues outside of work that could affect the employment relationship” – while more than 40 were fired for not following HMRC rules on employment. use of the Internet, e-mail and telecommunications. Others were made redundant due to misuse of HMRC equipment.

HMRC has sent thousands of staff for cybersecurity training courses in recent years, as reports of crooks posing as the tax administration, known as phishing attacks, have almost come close. double. He said he was tightening his cyber protections.

It also plans to hire about 1,200 new officers to crack down on tax evaders and evaders on leave. It received more than 121,000 tax fraud reports last year, up more than 9% from the previous year, a separate FOI request revealed.

Today it employs 62,000 people. A spokesperson for HMRC said: “The vast majority of HMRC employees are fully professional and play by the rules, but we take all allegations of unprofessional behavior very seriously and take appropriate action.”


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