HMRC to Trawl the Web for eBay Tax Cheats

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Well it had to happen sooner or later and to be honest, I am surprised it has taken as long as it has! The Inland Revenue announced last week that it would be starting a campaign to hunt out tax dodgers selling on eBay and the Internet in general.

HMRC will be using ‘bot’ software to automatically look for specific information and trading patterns which will identify certain people and companies and then cross-reference these details against their own records. This will allow them to pick up any discrepancies.

The campaign will be launched later this year and will specifically target eBay traders and other small businesses and private ventures such as personal tutoring or tradespeople.

The Inland Revenue has suggested that if you are in a category about to be targeted and feel that you might have been ‘less than honest’ about your tax affairs, that now is the time to come forward – don’t wait until you are caught later in the year.

Mike Wells, director of Risk and Intelligence explained,

“By being open about our areas of interest for the coming year, we hope to maximise the exchange of information and help customers pay what they owe.

We will use the information we gather to pursue people who choose not to use the opportunities we provide for them to put their affairs in order on the best possible terms. It will be more expensive if we come and find people so I urge them to come forward and disclose voluntarily.”

Does this affect you? Have you been enjoying a tax-free income from eBay or some other online source? If so, it looks like the good times may be coming to an end and it might be time to start thinking about putting your affairs in order. And if you have been under-declaring tax for a number of years, it might be time to start saving up…!

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