Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 2nd June 2015
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is initiating a crackdown on businesses that operate via the E-commerce platforms Amazon and eBay but do not pay taxes as they should.
The crackdown is also aiming to identify operations that base their trading on other well-known online platforms such as Gumtree and Etsy.
Data analysis techniques are being used by HMRC in order to track down anyone who is essentially operating a retail business online but who does not pay the full amount of taxes for which they are properly liable.
According to a spokesperson for HMRC, which is responsible for gathering taxes on behalf of the UK Treasury, the aim of the initiative being undertaken is to see relatively large-scale enterprises brought into line as far as their tax affairs are concerned.
“This is about making sure online traders pay the right tax - wealthy or otherwise,” an HMRC spokesperson told the Mirror. “We will make contact with those that we are aware might need our help to get it right.”
It is understood that HMRC is not looking to pursue individuals or groups of people who use websites such as Amazon or eBay for the purposes of selling off unwanted household items. However, the authorities are evidently keen to ensure that anyone running a business online via third party platforms are brought into line with enterprise taxation laws as appropriate.
Confusingly perhaps for anyone who starts selling online and finds that they can make profits in doing so, there isn’t always a clear line of delineation between selling in a private capacity and trading in a way that amounts to running a small business. Therefore, the advice from HMRC is for anyone unsure of whether or not they ought to be paying taxes in relation to the way they sell items online to seek guidance from experts on the subject.
For now though it appears as if HMRC will only be taking action in this context against operators for whom it should be obvious that their activities constitute running a business and who should therefore be paying taxes on their profits.