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Online sellers offered chance to settle tax bills

14th March 2012 Print

People trading on the internet who haven't paid all the tax they owe have been offered the opportunity to come forward and pay up under an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) campaign.

Under the time-limited opportunity, the e-Markets Disclosure Facility, online marketplace traders can pay the tax they owe and benefit from lower penalties available to those who come forward, rather than wait for HMRC to catch up with them.

Marian Wilson, head of HMRC Campaigns, said: "This campaign is part of a wider HMRC initiative to provide support and guidance to the public on tax evasion and 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.

"Our aim is to make it easy for online traders to contact us and make a full disclosure of income, thereby putting their affairs in order."

Under the opportunity, online marketplace traders can come forward at any time between 14 March and 14 June to tell HMRC they want to take part.

They then have until 14 September to give details of the tax owed and arrange for full payment, including any interest and penalty due. If they make a full disclosure of what they owe before 14 September, some will receive no penalty at all, with most receiving a penalty of no more than 10 per cent of the tax owed.

After that date, using information pulled together from many different data sources, HMRC will investigate those who have failed to respond. The department has recruited additional investigators and will pursue those who have failed to declare their earnings and pay up. Penalties of up to 100 per cent of the tax owed or even a criminal investigation could follow.

To take part:

People must register with HMRC to "notify" that they plan to make a voluntary tax disclosure by 14 June.

They then have until 14 September to tell HMRC about tax due and make arrangements to pay any tax interest and penalties owed. This is called "making a disclosure".

How do they do this?

From 14 March, online by completing a notification form at:

A YouTube video is available giving guidance to people wondering whether their buying and selling on an e-marketplace website can be seen as trading -

HMRC will also hold an online Twitter Q&A on the e-Markets Disclosure Facility on 28 March. Details will be published in advance on HMRC's Twitter account at @HMRCgovuk.

More than £500m has been raised by HMRC from voluntary disclosures, and a further £105m from follow-up activity. Previous campaigns have targeted offshore investments, medical professionals, plumbers and VAT defaulters.