HMRC are set to further their fight against tax evasion by looking into our card payments. Oh joy.
The thought of someone looking into our accounts, seeing card statements and witnessing our transactions is enough to make even the hardiest of professionals quiver. Although not everyone may indulge in such sordid affairs as others, the safe haven of our card statements is something that we take comfort in knowing are for our eyes only (and the banker’s eyes of course, but we don’t think about that). Well we can all now feel this feeling of unhinged trepidation from the comfort of our own homes, as the Revenue will now have access to information on all credit and debit card payments to UK businesses.
Through new ‘powers’ bestowed upon HMRC, Hector can now get his squeaky clean mitts (take that David Heaton) on records of our card payment, to make sure that traders taking payment by credit or debit card have accounted for all taxes they are due to pay.
The Revenue will have access to all information from ‘merchant acquirers’ in the UK, with credit/debit card transactions visible from over the past four years, tightening their grip on tax avoidance, hoping fewer and fewer cases will slip through the net. These data requests are set to be implemented this week and from next year it will become standard practise as an annual request.
HMRC have stated that are able to identify tax avoidance and fraud by cross-referencing the information obtained from merchant acquirers with the information that already exists on HMRC databases. For all of you that are about to chop up your credit cards and border up your windows however, they have stressed that no personal data about individual card owners or their card numbers will be obtained, solely transactions made with these ‘merchant acquirers’.
The new step in tax crackdown is estimated to reduce data payment fraud by more than £50 million per year, hammering home the ever growing tax embargo that HMRC are undertaking. It does raise a few eyebrows however at what lengths the Revenue are willing, and are allowed to take to oust the evident misconduct of tax avoidance. Is it just a matter of time before we are forced to flaunt our entire fiscal existence for the world to see?