Ruffley's outrage at Government tax inspectors snooping on Suffolk homes

Monday, 18 February, 2008

David Ruffley MP has this week expressed his anger at news of a secretive deal between Rightmove Plc and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

It has been revealed that the details of 9 out of 10 house sales and rentals in Suffolk is being collected and logged in a database to prepare for the revaluation of council tax levels.

Individuals selling their home are not aware that information given to their estate agent, which is then passed to internet portal Rightmove Plc, is in turn passed on to the Government's tax inspectors. Local agents in Suffolk have been kept in the dark over these moves.

David said:

'This revelation is quite frankly disgusting. Unsuspecting homeowners across Suffolk are putting their homes on the market, without realising that the Government's tax collectors will use the information to justify another round of council tax hikes.

'More than 90 percent of all UK Estate Agents choose to be members of Rightmove. The Rightmove database contains unprecedented amounts of data which is in turn passed to the Government.

'HM Revenue & Customs, who have been responsible for the loss of millions of personal tax and benefit records, is pillaging estate agency records to build up a property database for its council tax inspectors. Rightmove holds 16 million property records, with millions of individual entries being updated each month.

'The data passed on to the Government's tax inspectors include internal and external photos of the home, the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, conservatories, parking spaces, layout and other features deemed 'value significant'.

'It is beyond belief that Gordon Brown's tax inspectors should be trusted with this information given their track record- they have already lost the tax records of millions of law-abiding citizens. Now the same people are building up a database of every home in the country.

'It will alarm Suffolk residents that detailed information on 9 out of 10 house sales and rentals is being passed secretly from estate agent to tax collectors without consent.

'The agreement expires in March of this year but the Government has the option to extend it for a further year. For the sake of homeowners across Suffolk I will be calling on Gordon Brown to give no consideration to an extension.'