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HMRC to target e-traders in new tax campaign

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is to launch a series of new campaigns to tackle tax avoidance, it has announced.

One of the campaigns will target those who use e-marketplace sites such as e-Bay and Amazon to buy and sell goods as a trade or business.

While occasional sellers are unlikely to be liable to tax, people earning a living as self-employed traders may need to pay income tax, national insurance and VAT.

Meanwhile, private tutors and coaches who are able to earn either a main or secondary income from their expertise will be the subject of a separate campaign to recoup unpaid tax.

HMRC said it will also build on its plumbers’ campaign and ‘give an opportunity to another group of tradespeople to come forward and declare unpaid tax’.

It confirmed that it would be using ‘cutting-edge tools’ including a ‘web robot’ to search the internet and find targeted information about specified people and companies.

‘By being open about our areas of interest for the coming year we hope to maximise that exchange of information and ensure we reduce the tax gap and help customers pay what they owe,’ commented Mike Wells, HMRC's Director of Risk and Intelligence.

Meanwhile Gary Ashford, of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), said: ‘The news last week that HMRC have launched 16 criminal investigations off the back of earlier campaigns shows that the taxman is taking a very tough line against suspected tax evaders.

‘It will be important for HMRC to explain to e-traders the borderline between an individual selling one's own surplus belongings and moving into trading,’ he added.