HMRC Plans to Monitor internet Sites and Transactions for Tax Collection Purposes

The BBC News website reports that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) wants to collect information from internet companies to allow it to identify companies and individuals who have not declared income from online sales.

The planned powers would cover sites that carry advertising, App stores such as those for Apple and Google, booking intermediaries like Airbnb and also e-commerce sites such as Ebay.  The plan does raise obvious concerns about the potential for fishing expeditions by HMRC, as they plan to cross-reference this third-party information against other records they hold and information supplied by taxpayers themselves, in order to identify individuals and businesses evading tax.

HMRC have issued consultation document on the plans which can be found here.

Comment from the Newsblog Editor:

These proposed powers are interesting in the context of past attempts to increase HMRC surveillance powers.  HMRC was to be one of the chief beneficiaries of the surveillance powers proposed in the now defunct Communications Data Bill and no doubt they will be a beneficiary of the surveillance powers proposed in the upcoming Investigatory Powers Bill.

It is a reminder that the surveillance powers proposed in these bills have very little to do with fighting terrorism or protecting national security, rather, they are intended to extend to other government organisations, surveillance powers that up to now have been the preserve of the security services.