back to article Amazon and eBay agree to expose potential VAT evaders for UK tax man

Amazon and eBay are to ink a deal with the UK tax man this month to provide data on potential VAT evaders. Both companies confirmed to The Register they will sign a voluntary agreement with HMRC, along with other online marketplaces, to combat sellers failing to pay their fair share of tax in Blighty. According to HMRC, the …

  1. dervheid

    What's that old saying?

    "Set a thief to catch a thief"

    or something like that.

    1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

      Re: What's that old saying?

      @dervheid

      I think you'll find it's "Set a deep hole with spring-loaded sides, tripwires, whirling knife blades driven by water power, broken glass and scorpions, to catch a thief."

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: What's that old saying?

        "Set a deep hole with spring-loaded sides, tripwires, whirling knife blades driven by water power, broken glass and scorpions, to catch a thief."

        Who gave you a copy of my Pathfinder campaign?

        (I like traps. I like traps a lot. Especially ones that require the players to think..)

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: What's that old saying?

          I think you will fine a rather good Pterry P

          "The phrase 'Set a thief to catch a thief' had by this time (after strong representations from the Thieves Guild) replaced a much older and quintessentially Ankh-Morporkian proverb, which was 'Set a deep hole with spring-loaded sides, tripwires, whirling knife blades driven by water power, broken glass and scorpions, to catch a thief.' "

    2. Libertarian Voice

      Re: What's that old saying?

      The only theft that is going on herer is that committed by HMRC on behalf of the UK government.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's that old saying?

        The most intelligent comment made on this thread... and for the rest... there seem to be a bunch of English patriotic morons with very low intellect, trying to appear clever... ANY type of TAX is extortion... PERIOD. Get that into your heads folks... someone called Doug Casey, stated a while ago:

        “What is a slave? He's someone who is deprived by force of the fruits of his labor. Sound familiar? I disapprove of slavery, in any form – including its current form.”

        About being "immoral"... IT IS immoral to pay taxes... funny how many people are happy of being robbed "legally" in the (wrongly) name of "contribution"... and get mad at people that want to "avoid" being robbed (sorry, I mean paying extortion fees)...

        By the way.. do not give me the pathetic "I pay my taxes, you should too" or anything to do with silly ENGLISH patriotism... F*ck that... Rant over

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's that old saying?

      "will commit to providing a minimum amount of data on their sellers, including identifying individual businesses, their contact details, and calculating their sales in the UK."

      The taxman has had legal access to that information for years. Not clear what is new here.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    It is not just lost VAT ...

    but since they can charge 20% less than a native vendor (ie UK based who does pay VAT) they can undercut them and so UK jobs, etc, are lost. Thus the true loss to the UK is much more than the £1.5 billion VAT.

    1. tip pc Bronze badge

      Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

      maybe they should just abolish VAT, which is just an additional tax. At least then those of us on PAYE will pay the same as contractors and others that can claim their VAT back.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        claim their VAT back

        They can only recover VAT for legitimate business expenses and will be in for major fines if they can't justify the claims.

        I also don't see why they shouldn't be able to recover VAT. When I was contracting, I had to stay in hotels and provide equipment - why shouldn't this be treated the same as for any other business?

        PAYE and VAT are not related.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: claim their VAT back

          Businesses do not claim back VAT. They offset it against the VAT they have collected on behalf of HMRC. VAT is paid by the purchaser, collected by the business on behalf of HMRC.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: claim their VAT back

            "offset it against the VAT they have collected on behalf of HMRC"

            unless they produce "zero rated VAT" products, of course, but have to buy goods and therefore DO claim back the VAT they have paid.

            (eg Children's clothing is zero rated, but there wa VAT paid...)

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: claim their VAT back

              >unless they produce "zero rated VAT" products, of course, but have to buy goods and therefore DO claim back the VAT they have paid.

              Not sure of your point AC, but such businesses still offset it against the VAT they have collected, just that for these businesses the net VAT collected is likely to be negative and hence HMRC sends them a cheque.

              HMRC sending out cheques to those with negative VAT accounts helps to make it remunerative for businesses to claim back VAT on expenses. As HMRC don't send out cheques if your level of expenses exceeds your post-VAT income...

      2. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

        "maybe they should just abolish VAT, which is just an additional tax. At least then those of us on PAYE will pay the same as contractors and others that can claim their VAT back."

        I wondered how fucking long this would take to come up.

        Contractors can only claim VAT back on business expenses, that is expenses incurred by their business - your employer does the same.

        As a contractor I am an EMPLOYEE of my company I personally pay the same VAT on everything that you do. If my EMPLOYER buys something then they get to claim the VAT back as long as the thing that they bought is for business use. The fact that I own the company that employs me has no bearing whatsoever on this.

        1. Joe Harrison Silver badge

          Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

          Depends what kind of company surely? I knew a guy who ran an office cleaning business and (just one example) bought toilet rolls by the containerload. When you visited his house and went to the loo do you think you saw Tesco toilet roll there? There must be loads of unprovable ways to avoid tax when you have a business.

          1. Natalie Gritpants

            Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

            Well, that would be an employee benefit. Lots of companies have them (free gym membership, health car etc.) No VAT fraud there but you are meant to declare the value of the benefit as it is taxed (PAYE) as income. How much toilet paper can you get through? Seems there are more important tax frauds going on.

            1. Lee D Silver badge

              Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

              I think that HMRC don't start asking questions until you're earning something undeclared over £4k a year, minimum.

              Even then, you can "get away" with things for a lot time, but you would be an idiot to try to do so via Amazon or eBay, etc. In a cash-business, yes, you can get away with a lot. Ask London cabbies about the back-handers from strip-clubs, as exposed on the news not long ago. Up to £80 cash-in-hand for a dropoff in some cases, the second the customer enters their premises.

              But with something like Amazon or eBay, where you need a bank account? They'll get you eventually but they'll wait until you've run up a bill worth chasing you for.

              1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

                Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

                "Ask London cabbies about the back-handers from strip-clubs, as exposed on the news Dave Gormans Modern Life Is Good-ish not long ago."

                FTFY

              2. anothercynic Silver badge

                Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

                Amazon doesn't need a bank account... just a debit card/credit card. eBay still uses Paypal a lot but apparently they are moving away from them to their own card solution.

                But I'm glad to see that they are starting to do *something* about this... now if they could only start doing something about the fake goods sold on both market places (apparently Facebook is the 'new' thing with their Marketplace, and it's overrun by cheap fakes too).

                1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

                  "Amazon doesn't need a bank account... just a debit card/credit card. "

                  Ummm, you did know that those debit/credit cards are typically associated with bank accounts, don't you?

                  1. anothercynic Silver badge

                    Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

                    Typically. But not necessarily within the reach of the HMRC.

                    Besides, when one says "does it need a bank account", it usually means "they need actual sort code and account number". Requiring a credit or debit card (and not bank details) does *not* mean it's not traceable, but it adds a level of indirection, which adds more work, more resources.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

                Depends on the source of income. You aren't required to report anything below £11,300 (soon to be £11,800) if the income is classed as a capital gain.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

              Indeed.

              Im sure HMRC could care less about Bogroll Barons.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

              @Natalie - agreed, toilet paper is definitely at the bottom of the list of useful 'dodges' but one of the earlier contributors, moaning about how soon it would come up, is probably able to buy the latest tech under his "company boss" hat for use under his "home with the family" hat, and then says "The fact that I own the company that employs me has no bearing whatsoever on this." which I consider a steaming heap of BS.

              He's clearly annoyed at the suggestion, and by sinking into the sewer to use the f-word, it gives (to me, perhaps alone), all the more reason to think it's the result of it being true, and the louder he shouts it isn't, the greater the suspicion it is.

              If some of the equipment happens to have useful access to, say, Netflix, iPlayer, Sky Go, he'd no doubt claim it was purely to keep up with legislation :)

              1. d3vy Silver badge

                Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

                Oh Dear, Lets take it one at a time shall we?

                "@Natalie - agreed, toilet paper is definitely at the bottom of the list of useful 'dodges' but one of the earlier contributors, moaning about how soon it would come up, is probably able to buy the latest tech under his "company boss" hat for use under his "home with the family" hat, and then says "The fact that I own the company that employs me has no bearing whatsoever on this." which I consider a steaming heap of BS."

                The point I was making is that anything I buy while wearing my "Company Boss Hat" has to be justifiable as a business expense. So I can buy a shiny new laptop for 3k as long as its primary function is for work (same as you taking an employers laptop home and being allowed to use it to browse the net in your own time).

                I *could* if I wanted go out and buy myself a 55" curved AMOLED TV for "Video conferencing" but If I get investigated I'd fully expect to end up with a ridiculous fine if they found it in the front room with an x box plugged in.

                "He's clearly annoyed at the suggestion,"

                Clarification : Im annoyed at the constant suggestion that contractors are somehow diddling HMRC and that everything we do should be taxed at the same or higher rate as permanent staff. This comes from a distinct lack of understanding of how limited companies operate and the fact that for liability reasons we NEED to work under a limited company - Try to get a contract role as a sole trader.. I can guarantee that you wont at least not for any decent rate or for a decent length of time.

                "and by sinking into the sewer to use the f-word"

                C'mon, we're all adults, its just a word, say it.. you'll feel much better.

                "If some of the equipment happens to have useful access to, say, Netflix, iPlayer, Sky Go, he'd no doubt claim it was purely to keep up with legislation :)"

                Actually there is a bit of a grey area there, all of my previous employers before I started contracting allowed me to use my IT equipment for personal use (within reason) - I dont see why having netflix on my work laptop would be an issue now that I am running my own company?

                Its not to keep up with legislation, its so I can watch movies when Im in a hotel 4 nights a week for months on end. In fact - if you go and have a look at HMRCs web site you would find that it would actually be permissible for the company to pay for the subscription as long as it was declared as a BIK and I (personally) paid the tax on it.

                But then that would require you to have some knowledge of the subject rather than just spouting some crap you made up based on something someone once told you.

                --

                Kisses.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

            He surely had a very proactive approach and on going role in quality control and product testing at his company.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

        "maybe they should just abolish VAT"

        We'd need to be (fully) out of the EU before we're allowed to conisder that ... after all, they (EU) have said they won't complete their decision on whether we can remove VAT just from tampons for another 2 or 3 years

      4. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

        >maybe they should just abolish VAT, which is just an additional tax.

        This represents about a third of all tax collected by HMRC, given it would be the Conservatives who would implement this, I can see the entire Education and Health budgets being cut...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

          No...VAT has nothing to do with education and health budgets.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

        Erm...permie alert!

        Yeah ditch VAT, its a waste of time and money...but VAT registered contractors though?

        You know the threshold is £85k right?

        Most contractors won't be VAT registered...

        1. DougS Silver badge

          You don't have to pay VAT for business expenses?

          Definitely different than state sales taxes in the US then. A business is only exempt from sales tax for something that is resold as is (i.e. if you buy computers wholesale and sell them, you don't pay sales tax for the purchase, but collect it from the sale) or something that is processed into something that you sell (like a restaurant buying beef that is ground to make burgers)

          If I buy a new printer for my home office to use in my business, there's no exemption. I have to pay sales tax on it. Doesn't matter whether it is a one person company doing $5000 in sales a year or Apple doing a couple hundred billion in sales, both have to pay sales tax when they buy that printer.

          Doesn't make sense to me that businesses are exempt from paying VAT. If a restaurant buys a printer, they obviously aren't selling printers or using it when they make a burger, so why not collect VAT on it? If they collected VAT on all that stuff they could probably lower the overall VAT rate significantly while collecting the same revenue, and make it harder for cheaters to dodge VAT by saying something will be used by their business when it isn't.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: You don't have to pay VAT for business expenses?

            >If I buy a new printer for my home office to use in my business, there's no exemption. I have to pay sales tax on it.

            Same with VAT, the sum of money that gets handed over is the same. However, the fun and games start with how that purchase is accounted for.

            For non-VAT registered businesses and those in the flat rate scheme, the only thing that can be done with that receipt is to treat it like a normal expense and thus offset the entire receipt against their normal tax. However, a business that does full itemised VAT has a choice, they can take the VAT/sales tax element (itemised on the receipt) and deduct it from any VAT they have collected from their sales - paying the reduced amount of VAT to HMRC, alternatively they can simply expense the VAT element along with the other costs on the receipts against their normal taxes.

            It is a little surprising that the UK VAT rate has remained at 20% and not been returned to 17.5% or even 15%, because as you say higher tax rates make it more remunerative to find ways to avoid paying the tax. But as I noted previously, VAT accounts for about a third of the tax revenues HMRC receives and any significant reduction in the amount collected could hit government expenditure hard.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: You don't have to pay VAT for business expenses?

              "But as I noted previously, VAT accounts for about a third of the tax revenues HMRC receives and any significant reduction in the amount collected could hit government expenditure hard."

              Most taxes, but VAT in particular, is just a way of keeping the headline PAYE tax rate as low as possible for voting purposes. A tax free allowance of £12000 and then 40% income tax on everything over and abolish VAT would probably mean the vast majority of people would be no worse off, but no politician is going to do that. There are probably real figures somewhere showing how this would work that are more accurate than the one I just pulled from by arse :-)

              Other benefits of abolishing VAT is the reduction on workload for importing goods, any business that currently has to deal with VAT and the number of people in HMRC who deal with VAT. That's probably a saving of billions in itself to the economy as a whole.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: You don't have to pay VAT for business expenses?

                >Most taxes, but VAT in particular, is just a way of keeping the headline PAYE tax rate as low as possible for voting purposes.

                Whilst this might be a factor, you shouldn't overlook the grey economy. Taxes like VAT are very good at collecting some tax from the grey and cash economies.

                The challenge is setting the levels (both PAYE and VAT) such that for the majority there is little benefit from actively trying to avoid paying these taxes. With the top rate, originally set at 50% and then reduced to 45% we saw this in action: the government collects more tax from the 45% band than they previously collected from the same demographic with the 50% rate.

              2. d3vy Silver badge

                Re: You don't have to pay VAT for business expenses?

                John, You said "Probably" too many times for me to take your argument seriously.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: You don't have to pay VAT for business expenses?

            "Doesn't make sense to me that businesses are exempt from paying VAT."

            That's because it's not technically a sales tax, it's more akin to a luxury tax and is currently 20%

            VAT doesn't apply to the "essentials" of life such as most food (weird exceptions), childrens clothes (handy if you are small, women in particular), books (but not ebooks). What's an average sales tax in the US? Would Apple be buying in printers to re-sell if there was a 20% tax on their wholesale purchase followed by a further 20% tax for the end consumer? No way is Apple paying Sales tax, they would just mark it up on the retail price and anyway, business only pay tax on profits, so any tax added to their business purchases are offset against the profits and hence their tax.

            As our infamous ex-reg journo was fond of pointing out time and again, only the end consumer pays taxes. Everything else is just expensive and non-productive paper shuffling to hide the real situation.

        2. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

          @anon

          Thats only a day rate of 380 assuming you have a month out of work.

          Also you can sign up to be vat registered before earning that much.

          Most contractors are VAT registered.

      6. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

        "least then those of us on PAYE will pay the same as contractors and others that can claim their VAT back."

        Sorry, Just one last point.

        WTF has PAYE got to do with VAT?

        Im paid via PAYE too - at least partially. It has no impact on the VAT that I pay when I go shopping.

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: It is not just lost VAT ...

      Its not even just VAT- I know a few people who make a decent side income from eBay and declare none of it. Years ago I had a thing going where a friend working in the local recycling plant would fill his car with any half decent looking computers that were taken to the tip, he'd drop them at mine and I'd clean them, wipe the disks* and stick them on eBay.

      We didn't get anything AMAZING but it was a constant stream of mostly working PCs all a few years old.

      By the time we got properly into a routine we were getting a couple K a month split between us (and the manager at the recycling centre who needed his palms greased) - unfortunately that stopped when my friend on the inside finished uni and got a better job and the council realised there was money to be made and started selling the electrical off to their own buyers.

      Being a good citizen I of course declared my additional income - but I can guarantee that the majority in a similar situation wont be paying TAX on their income.

      * I've been privy to more home made porn than I care to remember

      1. GIRZiM

        Re: I've been privy to more home made porn than I care to remember

        Got any left?

  3. MrAnonCoward43
    Thumb Up

    Got to love Amazon doing their bit for HMRC tax collection - absolute gents!

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      The sarcasm is strong in this one.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Very true, they will happily shop people that make them money without regulation.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Perhaps they should just, I don't know, go after Amazon?

  4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    And the bit not written down..

    Amazon and eBay are to ink a deal with the UK tax man

    Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Tax avoidance? What tax avoidance?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: And the bit not written down..

      "Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Tax avoidance? What tax avoidance?"

      Maybe, maybe not. It could just be HMRC using the current situation of most EU countries and the EU itself going after Amazon, EBay and the like as an extra stick to beat them with. Play nice and show you can be responsible and ethical, or it might get a lot, lot worse.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is fairly obvious from listings on at least eBay that some Far East sellers have multiple user names selling the same products. Presumably designed to keep a lower profile.

    Not sure how the UK warehousing works. It may be one warehouse per seller - or an independent warehouse acting as a factor for several Far East sellers.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      The Far East sellers don't have local warehouses. They ship direct via Hong Kong Post. If they *do* have local warehouses, it's hand-written and inevitably appears to be someone's garage or something.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "The Far East sellers don't have local warehouses. They ship direct via Hong Kong Post. If they *do* have local warehouses, it's hand-written and inevitably appears to be someone's garage or something."

        Students quite often have part time jobs to offset their costs. There are a LOT of Chinese students in the UK.

        I'd certainly not be surprised to learn that some of these students get a lot of "gifts" from "family and friends" and may even need a lock-up to store it in.

  6. LucreLout Silver badge
    Mushroom

    El Reg couldn't possibly comment????

    El Reg bloody well shouldn't comment until it can comprehend the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance.

    Amazon and eBay agree to expose potential VAT evaders for UK tax man

    Voluntary agreement gets green light – irony klaxon sounded

    Amazon aggressively avoids taxes. Yes it does. There is nothing illegal at all in that. And nothing inherently immoral. VAT evaders, the key to the term is the second word in it, are evading tax, which is both illegal and inherently immoral.

    Please can someone in Reg Towers at least try to get the basics right before hitting "approve" on this crap? Its bad enough when the Guardian does it, and also doubly funny given their own highly proactive tax avoidance in the past (trusts, offshore business dealings such as Autotrader etc etc).

    1. MrAnonCoward43
      Thumb Up

      Re: El Reg couldn't possibly comment????

      "And nothing inherently immoral." - have to pull you up on this one, lots of us think it's immoral. Hoovering up large profits in a country without paying tax with your near to the bone 'avoding' tactics which when rumbled often become illegal. It's a big scam and a huge reason that the 'little folk' like me and presumably you have to foot the brunt of the bill to keep our country's infrastructure up and running and on the flip side of course our MPs with enough money for expenses to claim etc etc.

      Here's the best one I've ever seen / heard: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2263208.stm

      "The Inland Revenue has confirmed that it sold its estate of more than 600 buildings to a company based in a tax haven, and admits it wrongly announced the properties were sold to a UK firm."

      HMRC folks, doing it's bit for tax 'avoidance' too..

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: El Reg couldn't possibly comment????

        "And nothing inherently immoral." - have to pull you up on this one, lots of us think it's immoral.

        Yeah, thats why I used the wording I did rather than "absoloutely nothing immoral", which is my own view. People have different moral frameworks.

        I avoid tax be defering some using a pension, using an ISA for my savings, and exercising my tax free allowance on my salary. For some people, that will be immoral - savings being viewed as surplus income, for others it'll be fine.

        As long as companies obey the law, all we need are less incompetent legislators. Absent that, I'm afraid we're all just screaming into the void.

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: El Reg couldn't possibly comment????

      Nothing immoral about tax avoidance? Actually, yes there is.

      And before you mention ISAs, there's a subtle difference between using something that's specifically designed to lower tax for certain people and ramming an elephant through a tiny loophole.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: El Reg couldn't possibly comment????

        >Nothing immoral about tax avoidance? Actually, yes there is.

        Care to explain? include some examples of what you consider to be tax avoidance?

      2. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: El Reg couldn't possibly comment????

        @roj

        You're confusing avoidance and evasion.

  7. DasWezel

    "The taxes haven't been avoided, or even evaded. They just haven't been paid." - Vetinari.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      "The taxes haven't been avoided, or even evaded. They just haven't been paid." - Vetinari.

      I'm not wholly sold on the idea of having favoured literary authors setting tax law, or indeed any other laws. After all, everyone has different favourite authors.

      Anyone that thinks avoidance and evasion are the same thing should feel free to send the Chancellor a payment of about £2k to make up for their own "avoision" in using their tax free earnings allowance. Anyone who doesn't send payment fundamentally agrees with me when it comes to their own money.

      So, hands up all those sending cheques? Yeah, me neither.

      1. MrAnonCoward43

        Ha ha, you're making laughably unfair comparisons. £2k tax free earnings so that the poorest paid can attempt to afford to survive or a multi billion profit making company that pays millions to tax avoiding (evading, you say tomato I say legally evading) experts to hide, offset, transfer to make believe shell companies in havens such as those that the UK in particular allow to exist that are only available to to the super wealthy companies / individuals and scratch the backs of your derided legislators (which yes, would be great if they were uncorruptible and had a back bone). Certainly immoral to me.

        To join you in a comparison, it's like letting one cyclist use a seat on his bike and then turning a blind eye letting another cyclist use his seat but also jack up on every yet to become illegal drug / substance / tue and say its valid and not immoral. That comparison has no bearing on the rest of a nation however and doesn't require millions of others to shoulder the burden of the drugged up cyclist who is out there celebrating his wins with gallons of champagne and yachts.

        Lastly, whether you're happy with the fact that said author never worked for HMRC, PwC or Deloitte and thus should never make any comment on anything related to tax then that's your personal limitation I would say. Why are you discussing it? Or are you in fact an expert in taxation??

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          you're making laughably unfair comparisons. £2k tax free earnings so that the poorest paid can attempt to afford to survive

          Quck quack oops. Its nothing to do with the poorest paid - you have to be earning over £100k before the tax free earning threshold begins to get withdrawn. I'm sorry that in this clash of facts vs your emotions it is your emotions that have lost. I feel bad for you son.

          a multi billion profit making company that pays millions to tax avoiding (evading, you say tomato I say legally evading) experts to hide

          You can't legally evade tax. You can legally avoid tax or illegally evade it. Avoidance is ALWAYS legal, evasion is always illegal. Again, apologies for treading all over your emotions with these simple facts.

          transfer to make believe shell companies in havens such as those that the UK in particular allow to exist that are only available to to the super wealthy companies / individuals

          There's nothing make believe about offshore legal entities and they aren't necessarily shell companies. You know there's a difference? Probably you don't.

          You don't need to be super wealthy as an individual or company to use offshore vehicles to reduce taxes - my local coffee shop does it.

          Certainly immoral to me.

          Well, so far you've demonstrated absolutely no understanding of how tax law works or what is actually happening, so I'm hardly suprised you're morally outraged - the confused often are.

          Lastly, whether you're happy with the fact that said author never worked for HMRC, PwC or Deloitte and thus should never make any comment on anything related to tax then that's your personal limitation I would say.

          I never said the author shouldn't comment becuse they haven't worked for HMRC or PwC. I said the author shouldn't comment until they know the difference between evasion and avoidance - it literally is the first thing you learn about tax.

          Why are you discussing it? Or are you in fact an expert in taxation??

          Actually, I am - in all my years posting on El Reg I've only once come across a poster whose subject knowledge might rival my own. As I've mentioned in many similar threads, I worked in the tax arbitrage industry and have a very thorough understanding of how it works, and why. You may not like that, you may not like that such an industry exists. Fortunately your emotions don't influence the facts, though the facts certainly should be influencing your emotions more than they are.

          1. MrAnonCoward43

            "You don't need to be super wealthy as an individual or company to use offshore vehicles to reduce taxes - my local coffee shop does it."

            More the shame and not a world to be encoruaged, we will forever disagree. They probably ask their staff to setup companies to pay them too. All legal of course as you will proudly say.

            Fair I missed your £2k limit point, had assumed you'd got the lowest earnings rate way out or were making a random example on the personal allowance.

            Of course, I understand Evade / Avoid, I'm just not accepting of something that should be illegal, often becomes illegal proudly declared "AH folks, it's only some avoiding, not evading, all ok here and no we don't really owe any tax because technically.....". Again, we will forever disagree. Bring forth the all powerful regulators

            p.s Congrats on the tax career and the title of being the #1 Reg tax guru! Hurrah for knowledge with a dash of arrogance.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Hurrah for knowledge with a dash of arrogance.

              Well, that puts me only slightly ahead of you then, with your dash of knowledge in a soup of ignorance.

              You're entitled to your opinion, founded as it is in emotion rather than reason, but you evidently still do not understand the difference between avoidance and evasion. You're desperate to conflate the two when no venn overlap is possible.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Tax free earnings are explicitly specified part of tax law. They do not require immoral suit clad golems to search Mordor for a loophole. As such they are neither avoidance or evasion. As for those two words they have the same meaning as far as normal people are concerned.

        1. d3vy Silver badge

          "As for those two words they have the same meaning as far as normal people are concerned."

          Doesn't matter what 'normal' people think evasion and avoidance mean as long as HMRC and the people engaged in the activity know the difference.

          Personally I avoid shed loads of tax but I have never knowingly evaded it.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Tax free earnings are explicitly specified part of tax law.

          All avoidance is part of the tax law. You can never legally evade taxes nor illegally avoid them. The difference IS important, even if you wish it weren't.

          As for those two words they have the same meaning as far as normal people are concerned.

          Ignorant people may feel that they have the same meaning, but they don't. And there's nothing normal about lauding emotion over reason. Most animals display more emotion than reason - that is what seperates us from them. Why the very law you herald is designed to weigh reason over emotion.

  8. nsld

    VAT threshold

    A lot of the smaller sellers on the sites don't get anywhere near the VAT threshold to even need to register and charge VAT so Hilliers idea of automating it for all would not work.

    You need to be doing north of £7,000 on the tat bazaars to need to register in the first place so a lot of the UK businesses not charging VAT don't actually have to in the first place.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: VAT threshold

      How many of the smaller sellers are the same person with multiple accounts?

  9. Mr Dogshit
    Headmaster

    "to ink" is not a verb. Please.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      The Oxford English Dictionary disagrees with you.

  10. skifoley123

    Ebay does not take its reponsibility to tax or ebay evasion seriously ..

    s a complete waste of time trying to report people. I investigated one supposed private seller turning over about £100, 000 a year. I reported them to ebay and reported them to the HMRC. nothing happened. I wrote to the CEO of ebay and was told they would investigate. Nothing happened. I sent ebay evidence of their turnover in the form of monthly screen shots , I sent another on line report to HMRC.

    The " private seller" sells mutiple of the same items, states an overseas buying policy and has stated they buy carpets all over the UK for resale. I sent all the evidence to ebay.

    They continue to trade. I however run a business , pay VAT and pay my taxes. In this increasingly competitive market , it is disturbing that tax and VAT avoidance businesses just seem bomb proof. It has caused a complete lack of morale in oyr company and we wonder why we bother.

    The private seller by the way on ebay is id Bluebumble.

    Form your own opinion. Another company called A2Z rugs is displaying an invalid VAT number. Ebay couldn't care less about that one either.

    Or about the company that we offered a weight of evidence towards shill bidding. Lots of reassurance of action, no action

    Below is the last email I got from their so called top level of investigations team , it basically implies that I should go away and stop bothering them

    RE: Re: Executive Escalations SR# 1-151064142627 SR# 1-151622644551

    Dear Ms. xxxxxx

    As mentioned previously if this account is found to be in breach of our thresholds we will take the appropriate action against them. If you still have concerns regarding this account I would suggest you report them to HMRC directly. I have provided the link for your convenience below:

    https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business

    If they find this member is in breach of their threshold they will contact us and ask us to action the account.

    At this stage Ms. Mc Cherry I feel I have adequately addressed your concerns on this case, therefore I do need to advise that this will be our final response on this matter.

    Kind Regards,

    Laura Coleman

    Executive Escalations

    [THREAD ID:1-1XH4F4R1]

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      The only avenue left open to you to voice your annoyance and that is to hand a copy of your evidence to your MP along with some suitable questions for them to ask of relevant colleagues/departments. I suggest doing this in person at their local surgery. Don't expect much to change, just that at least the MP can ask questions with a reasonable expectation of a half decent answer...

    2. mark l 2 Silver badge

      I am interested to know how you found out what their turnover was per year? I don't believe that information is shown on ebay unless you just checked their feedback and added up all the sales they have had feedback from. But from my own experience of selling on ebay only about half the buyers bother leaving feedback. Although fingers cross never had any negative feedback and been on ebay since 2001.

      1. skifoley123

        Re how do I know their turnover?

        I have been watching them for over a year and screenshotting their completed sales for that period of time. Easy enough to do , but the HMRC or ebay seem to have problems doing it

  11. shaunhw
    Angel

    What about VATMOSS and all that red tape ?

    Many people think they have an £ 85K VAT free threshold.

    For digital services they couldn't be more wrong. If they are selling goods abroad, they need to double check, as it won't be the same as in the UK.

    Online sellers of digital download service have to pay VAT on the first pound they take, if that sale is in another EU country , even if their turnover is less than the VAT threshold in their own country.

    So if people are selling digital data to EU customers outside the UK, they're supposed to register for VAT here, and pay VAT on the first pound of sales for both goods and none tangible sales. For downloaded stuff it's really a bit harsh; for example some lady selling a few knitting patterns online to other EU countries, as a low turnover side-line hobby has to register for the UK's VATMOSS scheme, and to do that they have to register for VAT too, which is all completely ridiculous. The UK government rightly want a small exemption to this for such micro sellers. Many of those just gave up because of the stupid red tape. Many others won't even start because of this.

    Some other small digital sellers are refusing to supply to fellow EU countries at all, because of this using geo blocking to prevent the sale, and the EU doesn't like that at all! Internal market at all that.

    But otherwise I think HMRC want to catch the people selling via EBAY and Amazon, who are operating below their VAT threshold from abroad, but having enough turnover to make it worthwhile to try to collect the cash. That too, seems somewhat unfair as everyone is entitled to sell the same stuff INSIDE their country VAT free, if their annual turnover is below the level for VAT registration in their country.

    UK seller, Under VAT threshold:

    Online knitting pattern for £3 sold to someone in London - No VAT payable.

    Online knitting pattern sold for €4 to someone in Paris - VAT payable, UK VAT registration required, UK VATMOSS registration necessary if not VAT registered in France.

    For physical items there's a distance selling threshold, before you have to register for VAT in the EU country where the customer is. Usually below the VAT threshold. Otherwise you charge and pay UK VAT if you need to be registered. So goods have a distinct advantage it seems. What happens if you post data out on a CD or DVD I wonder ?

    No wonder people just give up.

    Catching high turnover VAT fraudsters I have no problem with at all.

    Like all thinks there's a balance to be struck here, and I think they've got it slightly wrong. Very wrong in fact.

    Perhaps none VAT registered sellers should be able to use Ebay and Amazon collect to pay the VAT due, on their behalf and not have to register at all.

    It would be easier wouldn't it ?

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