By Claire West
People trading on the internet who haven’t paid all the tax they owe have one week left to take part in an opportunity offered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to get their tax affairs in order on the best terms available.
Under the time-limited opportunity, known as the e-Markets Disclosure Facility, online marketplace traders who come forward between now and 14 June to register their intention to take part in the campaign can benefit from lower penalties than those who HMRC catches up with.
The campaign is aimed at people using online marketplaces to buy and sell goods as a trade or a business and who are not up to date with their taxes. People who sell only a few personal items, however, and who are not traders are unlikely to be liable to pay tax on what they sell, and are not being targeted by this campaign.
Marian Wilson, head of HMRC Campaigns, said:
“We want to make it easy for online marketplace traders to contact us and register their intention to take part in the campaign. If you owe tax and don't get in contact, do not assume that HMRC will not catch up with you soon. It’s better to come to us before we come to you.”
Last month, HMRC wrote to more than 30,000 people trading on the internet to let them know about the e-Markets Disclosure Facility. Additional information, from a wide range of sources, on more than 100,000 people is currently being assessed. After the 14 June deadline, HMRC will begin contacting online traders who did not come forward if the department believes they owe tax. Penalties of up to 100 per cent of the tax owed, or even a criminal investigation, could follow.
People who make a full disclosure:
•will be offered a simple and straightforward way to put their tax affairs right
•may not be charged a penalty at all, with most receiving a penalty of no more than 10 per cent of the tax they owe.
More than £510 million has been raised by HMRC from voluntary disclosures during campaigns, and a further £125 million from follow-up activity. There have been more than 18,000 investigations, with a further 4,600 still ongoing.
Campaigns launched so far have targeted offshore investments, medical professionals, plumbers, VAT defaulters, coaches and tutors, and electricians.