Taxman has e-traders in his sights, warn accountants

August 1, 2011

Traders on eBay are being targeted for tax evasion by HM Revenue & Customs, warn PKF accountants and business advisers.

“Targeting traders on e-marketplaces such as eBay is unlikely to contribute much directly to HMRC’s target of collecting additional tax of £7bn each year by 2014/15,” said Tony Moorby, director of tax at the South West office of PKF. “But it sends out a clear message that the tax man has raised his game and is making a serious effort to crack down on dishonest individuals and businesses.”

He added: "With this most recent campaign, the Treasury has decided to adopt a ‘carrot and stick’ approach – on the one hand it is warning traders that it will seek out anyone who tries to evade tax; on the other hand it is providing individuals with a chance to come forward voluntarily and avoid the worst of the penalties.

“The deterrent should be effective because there is no hiding place for evaders. HMRC will use software to monitor transactions and officers can then follow up using information on account holders received from the marketplaces themselves. In effect, HM Revenue & Customs is saying: ‘you will get caught so you might as well come clean now’.”

John Cassidy, tax investigation and dispute resolution partner, said: “HMRC has made clear that it is targeting individuals who use e-marketplaces to buy and sell goods as a trade or business, rather than casual sellers. Traders who have been less than honest should seriously consider getting in touch with HMRC and making a voluntary disclosure before they get a knock on the door.”


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