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HMRC pries into UK business card payments

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has decided to stick its nose into card payments made to UK firms in another attempt to root out tax evasion.

Part of the taxman’s crusade on sniffing out every last cent has been to crack down on any undeclared income that may be trickling in to the coffers of UK businesses. To that end, HMRC has just been granted the authority to ‘request’ any debit and credit card payment information. There won’t be any personal details shared with the tax authority – or so HMRC insists – but it’s still going to look in to data such as the value of any transactions completed by anyone – and that will include contractors and other sole traders.

Chancellor Osborne announced the new powers back in March when he came forward with the new Budget, but it wasn’t until this week that these changes finally went into effect. To that end, HMRC is sending out its first enquiries now – and the taxman can look into payment records as far back as four years ago if it.

Is it just me or does this seem like a bit of too much power invested in the tax authority? I mean I’m not going to say that HMRC shouldn’t take efforts to ensure that tax evasion and tax avoidance isn’t going on, and I have to applaud its proactive approach to the problem, but for what it’s worth it seems like quite a big fuss for what might not be much of a net gain; is this really going to justify the time, effort and expense on the part of the taxman when it comes to looking into what can only be voluminous amounts of data for a few pennies here and there?

Furthermore, why is HMRC targeting sole traders once more when the problem still lies in massive multinational companies ducking out of their tax responsibilities by funneling their profits overseas? The amount of cash ending up in tax shelters in places like the Cayman Islands is positively eye watering, yet instead of going after firms such as Amazon or Starbucks the taxman chooses once more to place the burden on small businesses – the absolute lifeblood of the economy.

When is the government going to get its act together and address the 600-kilogram elephant in the room instead of taking it out on the hard-working sole trader? It’s absolutely frustrating to me that multinationals keep getting a free pass!

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