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HMRC’s data-gathering powers

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The Data-gathering Powers (Relevant Data) (Amendment) Regulations, SI 2016/979, specify the data that HMRC may require from two new categories of relevant data holder; namely, electronic stored-value payment service providers and business intermediaries, as introduced by the Finance Act 2016. The amendments also specify data that may be required from merchant acquirers, to align with the new provisions. The regulations come into force on 1 November 2016. HMRC consulted on a draft version between December 2015 and February 2016.

Relevant data will include:

  • For electronic stored-value payment service providers: data relating to accounts into which money has been transferred and information including the account holder’s name, address, telephone number, email address, website address, national insurance number, VAT number, unique taxpayer reference or other identifying information. HMRC may also require bank account details and whether the business is an individual, partnership or limited company.
  • For business intermediaries: data revealing the gross value of the transactions they facilitated, whether or not the data holder processed the payment for the transaction. HMRC will also be able to identify the trade of the business as part of the arrangement between the intermediary and the business. Where transactional data is not held, HMRC will be able to require any information that will enable it to either quantify or establish the volume/level of transactions of the business, such as commissions and commission rates charged, number of transaction reviews, number of click through rates and number of visits to an advert, etc.

HMRC will match the data received with data it already holds to check returns. This will improve HMRC’s ability to compare actual sales made with turnover declared in returns. It will also highlight businesses that have not registered for tax, in particular for VAT.