HMRC on warpath - eBayers beware


ebay reflectionDominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The taxman has launched another crackdown, getting tough on another swathe of people who may well think they are doing nothing wrong - or at least assume that they are getting away with a minor infraction of the rules.

This time there's bad news for people who sell on eBay and Avon ladies - along with anyone who has paid a builder or electrician in cash to avoid paying additional tax.


The taxman has announced plans today to launch a crackdown on those in 'home improvement trades' such as builders, roofers and bricklayers, as well as those who make money from direct selling through hand-delivered home catalogues or 'party plan' sales.

The Revenue also reaffirmed previously announced plans to launch campaigns targeted at electricians and those who trade on e-marketplaces such as eBay, both of which they intend to launch before the end of March.


The crackdown on builders and other tradesmen has been a long time coming, as most of us have been asked at one time or another whether we'd like a discount for cash. However, this does mean that if you have been knowingly paying tradesmen in cash in order to avoid tax, there is a chance you could be dragged into these investigations.

Money on the side

Those who make a bit of money on the side through delivering catalogues, running parties or selling on eBay may not even be aware of the need to inform the taxman. The number of people trying to make a bit of money on the side through these schemes has been growing dramatically as many more families feel the pinch, which means many thousands of people may have walked into a tax nightmare without realising.

Anyone making money via these methods needs to call their local office, inform them that they are direct-selling, and start filling out a tax return.

If they only sell a few items on eBay, and aren't traders, they are not likely to be liable to tax on what they make and will not be targeted. However, it's a fine line between someone who sells a few things and someone who trades, and it's essential you know which side of the line you sit on.

Gary Ashford, who represents the Chartered Institute of Taxation on HMRC's Compliance Reform Forum says: "Anyone who is worried that they have been underpaying tax - whether deliberately or in error, and whether they are covered by the new campaigns or not - should get professional advice without delay. Penalties will generally be less severe for taxpayers who come forward voluntarily to put their affairs in order with HMRC."

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