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HMRC consults on extended data-gathering powers for the ‘app economy’

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HMRC is consulting until 14 October 2015 on proposals to extend its bulk data-gathering powers in FA 2011 Sch 23 in order to enable HMRC to require data from electronic payment providers (e.g. via a ‘digital wallet’) and intermediaries that handle transactions (usually online) for other businesses, as part of HMRC’s efforts to ‘tackle the hidden economy’. See

The extended powers will directly affect businesses which act as intermediaries or provide electronic payment services, as they may be required to provide data to HMRC under the new legislation. They may also affect the businesses which trade through these channels. HMRC says that those who are tax compliant should see little or no impact.

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.

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

Tax partner Roy Maugham 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 believes that it 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.'