Identity cards could provide a back door for the taxman to snoop on people’s affairs using a database of National Insurance numbers.
The card system will use an existing NI database to log details, potentially making it easier for tax inspectors to keep tabs. Officials had hoped to base ID cards on a National Identity Register but will instead use the Customer Information System run by the Department of Work and Pensions.
This holds the records of everyone with a NI number, sparking concerns that HM Revenue & Customs could track a person’s personal life through their ID card, which must be produced whenever a proof of identity is required.
Guy Herbert, spokesman for the NO 2 ID campaign, said people would create an “audit trail” when they used their cards. This would be linked to their NI numbers.
“Of course ID cards are a tax-gathering tool,” he said. “When the Home Office talks about ‘preventing illegal working’ it is getting you to think of illegal immigrants, but an employer ‘verifying your status’ with the National Identity Register will create an audit trail of precisely who employs whom.”
Gareth Crossman, policy director at Liberty, added: “The Government sold us the ID card scheme under the guise of terror and crime protection, but the reality is that it has the potential for massive, unanticipated state access into our private lives.”
Damian Green, the Conservatives’ shadow immigration minister, said: “The public will be alarmed at this sinister Big Brother development.”
The Government denied that the database would be used for tax enforcement. A spokesman said: “It is not connected to any plans for improved tax enforcement and the information held on NI records will not include any tax records whatsoever.”