HMRC trawl for non-registered eBay businesses

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HMRC are having another round of chasing down eBay sellers who may not be paying their taxes.

HMRC FeatWe’ve now had three reports from sellers who have received an email from HMRC, addressed to their eBay ID and entitled “Are you selling items online? Do you know what to do?”

The email explains “We have already helped many businesses like you. If you’re thinking about, or are already selling online, then you may need to register with us and tell us about the income you receive. You may also need to pay tax on the income you receive.

It goes on to provide helpful advice with links to guidance for online sellers and how to register with HMRC as a new business.

I’m not sure how effective this new campaign will be however, sellers tell use “This was to my email address that is visible on my eBay pages and my own site” and “I’m a bit baffled actually as the business address shown on the Business seller information page where they’ve got the info from is the one I put on my self assessment forms as place of business, so no cross-referencing going on there obviously”.

Whilst I’m sure some sellers are daft enough to put their contact details on eBay and forget to register, HMRC don’t appear to be doing any checks to find that many of the people they’re contacting are indeed paying their taxes. This spray and pray approach looks like they’re targeting eBay business registered sellers, there would likely be a much higher hit rate of unregistered users if the emailed businesses still masquerading as private sellers.

8 Responses

  1. Only 3 reports? There were loads of people on eBay Power Seller Forum saying they received the email, I did as well. Obviously we are all properly registered businesses.

    They really do need to target those un-registered business sellers on eBay – trouble is those sellers don’t have their details displayed on their listings anyway.

    HMRC have done this several times in the past, exactly the same – only sent to registered business sellers. It just deludes people into thinking they are tackling the real problem, when they aren’t.

  2. Naturally we all expect HMRC to go after the smaller sellers in the UK rather than focusing on the big fish – the Chinese and other foreign sellers who are legally NETP’s (and therefore should be VAT registered the moment they make more than £0 in sales)

    As expected most of them aren’t and therefore they get the benefit of not having to charge their customers VAT

  3. I received the HMRC email. Also received a £30 gift from ebay by email today. Warning the £30 gift is spam so don’t click any of the links.

  4. Same as always, easier to target the majority who are legit than to track down the evaders.

    Go after those who avoid tax / Vat with multiple user id’s to sell items, to stay under the radar.

    We got a VAT shakedown last year because our Ebay fees allegedly showed we underdeclared by £20k according to the geniuses at HMRC.

    Spent a couple of hours teaching a VAT inspector the difference between shop fees / listing fees and final values fees, which he had no clue about !!!

  5. i got one of these emails but it wasn’t to my ebay registered email address, it was to my paypal registered email address? anyone else got one that seems to have been generated via paypal?

  6. HMRC has a real weakness in tracking down those users who are not on the radar. Where HMRC have strengths is of those sellers who they HAVE details of which they then can cross check with eBay fees via VIES systems compare with declared turnover etc. Those who are off the radar can continuously change their details which make them virtually impossible to catch

  7. We look forward to hearing about their success in targeting overseas sellers which are using UK fulfillment and are not VAT registered.
    Not too difficult to make both eBay and Amazon liable and then watch as the problem gets sorted once they start getting hit with multi-million pound fines.
    It really is not that difficult if there was any genuine political will!


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