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HMRC to target ‘app economy’ in pursuit of tax evaders

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HMRC has announced plans to extend its data-gathering powers to target suspected tax evaders in the ‘app economy’, says UHY Hacker Young, the national accountancy group.

The proposals announced in ‘Tackling the hidden economy: Extension of data-gathering powers’ would give HMRC the power to access data from the main app stores, such as Apple, Amazon and Google.

HMRC believes that app stores, as well as online platforms and booking systems are able to provide them information on online businesses which may not have declared the full value of their sales or may not even be registered with HMRC.

Roy Maugham, Tax Partner at UHY Hacker Young, explains: “HMRC is stepping up its pursuit of tax evaders, and the new powers it is seeking indicate that it believes there is large-scale tax evasion in the ‘app economy’.”

“The digital economy generates huge profits and HMRC clearly believe that they can raise additional revenue by targeting the sector – this is the latest in a long line of aggressive moves by HMRC to boost tax intake.”

UHY Hacker Young adds that the proposals could allow HMRC easier access to data from a variety of online marketplaces including Gumtree, craigslist and Airbnb.

UHY Hacker Young notes that HMRC has already extended data-gathering powers to online purchase methods such as “digital wallets” – an increasingly popular payment model allowing customers to make online transactions.

UHY Hacker Young points out this is just the latest stage in HMRC’s intrusion into the e-economy following a range of new investigatory powers it has received in recent years.

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