The tax man can bug you3rd April, 2008
From 15 February 2008, HM Revenue & Customs have been given the power to intercept telephone calls, e-mails and letters as well as ‘bug’ residential premises and private vehicles. These powers were granted to HM Revenue & Customs in the Serious Crime Act but did not come into force until February, when the relevant statutory instrument was issued.
Historically, customs officers have always had these powers to assist them in their efforts against drugs and gun crime, but in future, the local inspector dealing with income tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, etc., will also be empowered to use sophisticated ‘bugs’ and intercepts when investigating any tax return or offence.
HM Revenue & Customs will not need to apply for external permission to use these powers and, of course, there is no right of appeal because, in any case, the taxpayer will not know that he is being bugged
This development came shortly after the publication of the Chilcot Report, which recommended that intercept evidence be admissible in court.