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HMRC launches latest campaign to flush out unpaid tax

Online traders are being urged to settle any unpaid tax bills following the launch of a new campaign by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

People who trade on sites such as eBay have from 14 March to 14 June to notify HMRC of their intention to disclose any unpaid tax.

They then have until 14 September to give details of the tax owed and arrange for full payment, including any interest and penalty due.

Of those who meet this deadline, some will receive no penalty, while others will be required to pay a penalty of no more than 10% of the tax owed.

Traders who fail to make a full disclosure could incur a fine of up to 100% of the tax owed, or face a criminal investigation.

Launching the tax amnesty, Marian Wilson, head of HMRC campaigns, said: ‘This campaign is aimed at people using online marketplaces to buy and sell goods as a trade or business and who fail to pay the tax owed.

‘Those who only sell a few items and who are not traders are unlikely to be liable to pay tax on what they sell and will not be targeted by this campaign.’

However, the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has called on the tax authority to focus their efforts on recouping unpaid tax from the wider public.

‘There is a risk that HMRC are missing the big picture. Rather than continuing to launch different targeted campaigns every few weeks, HMRC should focus their efforts on a big national campaign open to all taxpayers whose tax affairs are not up to date,’ said Gary Ashford, from the CIOT.

Previous schemes have targeted doctors, plumbers, dentists and tutors. This year will also see the launch of a campaign to target those operating in the construction sector.