HMRC’s New Tool

HMRC has revealed that new campaigns will be launched over the next year targeting VAT defaulters, private tutors and e-marketplaces by using technology such as web robot software that will search the internet and find targeted information about people and companies.

The department believes that the software will pinpoint more accurately those people who have evaded paying tax. The web robot, used with the department's 'Connect' computer system, helps identify those people involved in black market trading.

'Connect' alerts HMRC to previously invisible tax evasion by uniting and matching a vast amount of HMRC and third party data.

This latest announcement comes off the back of last month's publicity concerning the summer campaign to clamp down on businesses that fail to register for VAT when required to do so.

External consultation will be sought before HMRC embarks on a series of campaigns that will focus on:

  • Those who provide private tuition and coaching, e.g, fitness/dance/lifestyle coaches, national curriculum subject tutors, etc.
  • E-market traders who buy and sell goods on a frequent basis but fail to pay any tax owed. Those who only sell a few items will not be considered to be traders for the purpose of this exercise.
  • Further amnesties for specific trade groups, building on previous campaigns that targeted offshore investments, medical professionals and plumbers.

Given the gauntlet thrown down by the Government to the Revenue to collect an extra £7 billion tax by the end of Parliament, these campaigns should come as no surprise.

Last week it was revealed that HMRC has initiated 16 criminal investigations borne out of earlier campaigns; 10 in relation to the New Disclosure Opportunity (offshore bank accounts)  and 6 concerning the Tax Health Plan (doctors and medical professionals); demonstrating that they are serious in getting tough with tax evaders.


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