Us little, ordinary people who try to augment our pathetic incomes by selling junk on the internet for pennies are the latest target of the HMRC, which says around £5.9bn per year is lost in tax revenues by people earning on the side online and not declaring it.
The consultation paper [PDF] doesn't actually mention any specific sites, but its wording clearly suggests that HMRC wants people who rent sofabeds to European tourists to start declaring the money they make, along with those who've built a career out of buying things in pound shops for £1 and selling them online to people who don't live near pound shops for £1.59.
And there's no way out of it, should the tax people get their way. The paper suggests that third-party online retailers like Amazon, eBay and Airbnb should be required to hand over data in bulk, should someone be suspected of not declaring an online business interest. The HMRC is also targeting advertising platforms, should you have a blog that makes any money, app stores just in case you're a part-time game developer coining it in through tricking children into clicking on adverts, and "Booking and Reservation Intermediaries" -- Airbnb.
Those who shuffle their online earnings through digital wallets to avoid money hitting their legit current accounts are specifically targeted, with the HMRC explaining: "In order to ensure that these methods of payments do not become a natural hiding place for those wishing to evade tax, the Government has proposed that legislation is updated for HMRC to receive aggregated and/or transactional level data from these and other newer types of payment provider. In doing so, HMRC proposes that the legislation is “future-proofed” so similar data can be requested from new business models as they emerge." [HMRC [PDF] via BBC]