On Friday the 14th of September, the HMRC “amnesty”, which allowed regular online traders the opportunity to pay lower penalties for not paying tax on their online profits, came to an end.
This means that those who buy and sell goods through online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon without declaring their earnings will face heavy penalties. HMRC has already sent more than 30 000 letters alerting internet traders to the campaign. HMRC has also been in contact with eBay, Amazon and similar sites, asking them to provide details of their members. These details will be cross-referenced by HMRC and those who fail to declare their earnings will have to pay the tax owed, as well as interest and possibly a hefty fine of up to 100% of their profits.
“We want to make it easy for online marketplace traders to take part in the campaign,” an HMRC spokesperson said. “If you owe tax and don’t get in contact by the deadline, do not assume that HMRC will not catch up with you soon. It’s better to come to us before we come to you.”
It has been estimated that more than 14.5 million Brits use websites to buy and sell, but that only a small percentage are classed as “online traders”.
Those who use eBay or Amazon only to sell the odd item they no longer need should not be worried. The campaign is intended to clamp down on those who are considered professional traders – people who are buying items online and then selling them online at a profit, and do so on a regular basis.