×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

British Tax System Uses Web Robots To Find Cheats

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-bit-left-unturned dept.

Government 190

judgecorp writes "HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is extending its campaign against tax cheats with the news that it will use web robots to trawl cyberspace. The system will check eBay and Google to identify traders who aren't declaring all their earnings. From the article: 'The decision to target cyberspace to hunt down those evading tax comes as HMRC continues its campaign to recover around £7 billion lost to the Treasury each year. It is thought that this latest development, the use of ‘web robots’, will help HMRC track down rogue eBay and Gumtree businesses, as well as people earning second incomes by acting as private tutors. It will also help it hunt down so called cash-in-hand handymen and traders.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

190 comments

Damn (2)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459006)

Damn and I thought Skynet was bad, or even the Matrix but tax collecting robots? Time for a revolution if you ask me. I won't support our robot masters!

Re:Damn (2)

ktappe (747125) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459166)

Time for a revolution if you ask me. I won't support our robot masters!

Why not? Ken Jennings does.

Re:Damn (4, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459404)

Damn and I thought Skynet was bad, or even the Matrix but tax collecting robots?

They are probably more concept than substance. A bundle of gobshyte to scare people into declaring their earnings from auction sites and freelancing.

Re:Damn (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460168)

This is an announcement about an idea - which means it's a long way from being reality.

There is no way this is about catching the obvious tax cheats - those who live in a great big house with a stonking great mortgage yet have an income of £20,000 per year. We already have perfectly capable tax inspectors who can deal with that. I reckon the government has decided that lots of people are providing small supplements to their income through ebay or other classified ads and are staying under the radar because the money involved simply isn't enough to drive around in a top of the line mercedes.

But multiply the lost tax revenue across everyone who the government obviously thinks is doing this and you probably have a substantial sum.

In any case, the data is out there to figure out whether or not someone is running a lucrative business on the side - very likely with reasonable accuracy (data protection issues notwithstanding). But it's just raw data, it's a long way from being useful information - to turn it into that is going to require a reasonably sophisticated IT project.

Given the government's skill at seeing IT projects through to successful completion (and I seriously doubt it's changed much since Labour were in power - fundamentally they're all the same), I really don't think this is anything to worry about.

I like how they think people actually owe them any (2, Insightful)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459042)

If the government in the UK is anything like ours in the US they're just a bunch of shameful crooks baselessly wasting money to further their own agenda while completely ignoring their citizens.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459054)

...I thought that was pretty much the job description of a government?

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (3, Insightful)

blue trane (110704) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459076)

The idea that govt can only spend what it takes in is an obsolete feudal myth, disproved by the fact that the USA has had a deficit for almost every year of its existence (since Alexander Hamilton's doctrine of Assumption assumed the states' war debts). Japan's 200% debt-to-gdp ratio and a currency they consider too strong is another counterexample. The real question is why do banks get to have an exclusive right to create money and automatically attach debt to it?

"Give me control of a nation's money supply, and I care not who makes its laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (2)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459142)

I feel like pulling a "Good Will Hunting" moment on you...
but I wont.... I wont.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (5, Informative)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459152)

the USA has had a deficit for almost every year of its existence

That's not only completely false, it would be misleading even if it were completely true. There have been several dozen years during which the debt was paid down at least slightly, and many others in which the increase in GDP far outweighed the increase in the debt. On that last point, I'm not saying anyone should ever count on growing their way out of debt (as a few of the more delusional Republican potential candidates, especially Pawlenty, seem to advocate today), but it's perfectly reasonable for a fiscally stable government to borrow some money in periods of preexisting economic growth, and of course there are times when you can cause economic growth by spending borrowed money in the right places.

So in a word, no. The US government has not spent substantially more than it took in throughout most of it's history, or when it did economic growth or fiscal responsibility closed the gap in following years. The only times we've had truly massive debt spikes were major wars, and the last thirty years of total irresponsibility. And that irresponsibility caught up with us about five years ago, truth be told. Most politicians are barely edging their way around to admitting the possible existence of a problem right now, but this crap reached crisis levels a while ago.

No government can spend more than it takes in for any impressively long time, and it certainly isn't the regular order of things.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (5, Insightful)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460118)

It wasn't really until Reagan that the National Debt took on a life of its own. It was tiny enough in the past that it was never really an issue, but Reagan, for better or for worse, decided to win the Cold War by spending so much the Russian government wouldn't be able to feed its citizens if it tried to keep up. The military industrial complex being what it is, we've never really drawn back from that unreasonably high level of spending on our military. Meanwhile, it's supporters engage in all manner of frantic arm waving to try to distract the public's attention towards lesser costs like money for the arts, NASA, social welfare programs, and health care initiatives. Never mind that the positive externalities of these programs more than justify the costs--they make easy targets to a public that wouldn't understand the notion of a cost-benefit analysis unless Garth Brooks wrote a song about it.

While I appreciate that some so-called "Libertarians" see past this and want to cut military funding to the same degree they want to cut everything else, I find that too often they have a naive sort of blind faith in the free market and a weak understanding of the game theory underpinnings of modern political science. Most government spending is worthwhile in the sense that it generates more benefit to the public than it costs, the cost per person is low, and that it would be unaffordable without the pooled collective spending power of an entire nation (that is to say, the fixed costs are such that the unit cost can only be reasonable with a full buy-in from the entire tax-paying public).

In short, you are correct that government spending is simply too high to sustain long term--but not by such a large margin as you may think. The current tax rates are fine--even those under Clinton (which only were higher for those making far more money than myself and likely you as well) were not too burdensome for industry. Despite the protestations of some libertarians, Atlas Shrugged, if it could happen, would never happen at our current modest tax rates. I think we could easily work our way to a surplus through Military cuts alone, though I can't be bothered to go look up the exact numbers--and to make our spending completely sustainable, all we need is a $1 dollar surplus.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (4, Interesting)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460530)

So let me get this straight. The statement you are contesting says "the USA has had a deficit for almost every year of its existence." Your reference to "misleading" aside, you say the statement is "completely" false. Well, it is false for any reasonable definition of "almost every", but suppose it had said "a majority of the years" instead of "almost every year." Then it would be true, wouldn't it? And it would certainly be true for "almost every" when restricted to the range from 1960 through 2011, with covers the entire lifetimes of a majority of slashdot readers. Anyway, the simple fact is that, while significant deficits have been run in the past to cover the War of 1812, Civil War, WW I, Great Depression, and WW II, since 1970 we have had a huge run of deficits incurred without any such excuse, simply to cover normal operations.

As for the rest, let's leave tweedledee Democrat and tweedledum Republican out of it, shall we? Both have been approximately equally destructive and craven in the way they will not face reality.

There is no need to be vague or uncertain with the facts; the information is readily available right here [usgovernmentspending.com]. Here's the summary one can make of that data:

Longest run of DEFICIT years: 28 (1970-1997), integrating to 81.91% GDP
Longest run of surplus years: 18 (1875-1892), integrating to 72.30% GDP
Do you see a trend in terms of timeline?

First year of DEFICIT >10% GDP when not fully mobilized for an existential war: 2009. Didn't happen in the Great Depression, or at any other time since the founding of the Republic. We're going to duplicate that feat again this very year.

Integrated value of (DEFICITS as %GDP) since the founding: 301.69
Integrated value of (surpluses as %GDP) since the founding : 40.52

Years of DEFICIT since the founding: 117
Years of surplus since the founding: 104

Years of DEFICIT since 1960: 46
Years of surplus since 1960: 6 (SIX) (1 Bush 2, 3 Clinton, 1 Nixon, 1 Eisenhower)

Decades of net DEFICIT since the founding: 13
Decades of net surplus since the founding: 8

Decades of net DEFICIT since 1960: ALL OF THEM!!!

Decades of >10% integrated value of (DEFICIT as %GDP): 8
Decades of >10% integrated value of (surplus as %GDP): 0 (ZERO)

In the following tables all DEFICIT values are expressed as positive numbers and surpluses as negative numbers.

NOTE: I couldn't include the tables because slashdot has a STUPID AS SHIT lameass lines-too-short filter. I'll see if there's some way to put them in my profile.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (2)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459154)

Well, yeah, nobody's saying a government can't spend more than it takes in - that is obviously false. What they're asking is, is it sustainable behaviour? Just like a family living on credit can spend far more than it takes in - until it's interest repayments start outpacing it's total income. From what I know, the cost of servicing the US debts has long since exceeded the amount garnered from taxing the income of its citizens, and its only getting worse.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (5, Interesting)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459336)

From what I know, the cost of servicing the US debts has long since exceeded the amount garnered from taxing the income of its citizens, and its only getting worse.

Wrong. Total revenues for fiscal 2012 are of the order of $2.6 trillion, total budgeted expenditure is $3.7 trillion, leaving a deficit of $1.1 trillion (figures from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]). Interest on debt for 2012 is budgeted at $474 billion. It's a sad fact to be spending close to a fifth of income on interest repayments, but then I can imagine there's more than a few families out there shelling out a lot more on repayments for mortgages.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (3, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459344)

What you "know" is incorrect. The interest we pay on the national debt is $251B. The total revenue from income taxes is $1121B. And that doesn't count other taxes, such as corporate or excise taxes. If you tally up all of the United States revenues (excluding Social Security taxes), you get $1633B, more than six and a half times the debt interest.

Additionally, the long term trend (average over the previous decade) is that the debt is for the interest payments to grow at half the rate at which revenues are growing.

There's a lot of fear mongering going on about the American economy. It's very persuasive, but most of it is based on lies. We should absolutely reduce spending. We should also raise revenues. Repealing the Bush tax cuts, trimming back on military spending, removing the tax cap for Social Security, and applying some form of means testing to SS & Medicare are all reasonable approaches. Just don't find yourself falling for the FUD that we need to privatize everything right away or go bankrupt, because it's simply not the case.

Source [wallstats.com]

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459478)

Is that debt interest just interest payments on the debt, or debt repayments, including interest?

Can you say that 15% of the money that the government takes from you goes just on debt interest? If so, that seems like good value for money.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (0)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459850)

The federal government doesn't repay any debt. They have done so in the past, but not in the last 70 years or so.

So it's intrest-only, and there are no plans to ever repay it. That would require so much money that we'd have to shut down all social programs for 25-30 years, or shutting down the army for about 70 years (and obviously in both cases spending must not grow as a result of cutting either, so e.g. this is in the assumption Sarah Palin becomes the next president and ObamaCare gets repealed before you can say "not reelected").

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459702)

If you are correct artor3, a little under one sixth of our tax revenue is spent on interest payments which do nothing for us.

I don't need much mongering to fear that... We aren't in the previous decade, we're in this one.

It's one thing to borrow beer money, it's another thing to borrow rent money.

Is that a lie?

Don't worry about FUD, I don't believe we need to privatize everything or go bankrupt.

I agree with your entitlement reform ideas, except for the repeal of tax cuts.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (2)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459580)

(1) Debt != Deficit. Carrying debt is not an issue - old loans get paid but new ones also get made, all based on the goodwill of the American Government being able to honour its debts at some point in the future.

(2) Most of Japan's creditors are in fact Japanese institutions and citizens - the government owes its own people, and they're obviously still willing to lend it money.

(3) Where do banks have an exclusive right to "create" money? Or are you attacking the principle of fractional reserve banking that's been at the core of capitalism since the Medicis of Florence?

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460028)

(1) Debt != Deficit. Carrying debt is not an issue - old loans get paid but new ones also get made, all based on the goodwill of the American Government being able to honour its debts at some point in the future.

This is of course the big problem with increasing debt. You would think that if, say, debt doubled, intrest payments would double. But this is not true.

The federal government has loans, on average, of 3 years, at x%. So every 3 years the federal government takes on new loans, at the new intrest rate. So if debt levels rise, the intrest percentage on existing loans rises within 3 years, and so the intrest payments rise accordingly.

So a doubling of debt would do something between rising intrest payments a factor of 4, or it might raise them a factor of 10. Most people think government debt can't spiral out of control in a year's time, but what happens in practice is that with a doubling of intrest rates, the federal government's intrest rates go up 33% for 3 years. If that happens, the federal government will have no choice but to cut half it's social programs in 3 years time.

Incidentally, this is exactly what is happening in Greece. Next year will be worse for Greece than this year, and the next year will be worse still. After that, things *might* (assuming they're not bankrupt) get better.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459170)

"We the people ... " says enough about "our" government. If you think you're not part of your governance, then revolution is appropriate. Problem is, most people are more scared to be "on their own" than under the care and watchful eye of Big Brother. Just look at the Tits, Scrotum and Ass feeldowns at the Airports. If you REALLY want a change in governance then SPEAK UP LOUDLY about everything you don't like, and persuade people to your cause. Yes, there are too many sheeple voting, women voting for the "cute guy", young people voting for the "cool guy", poor people voting for the guy who is going to give them money and so on.

We have the government we deserve.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (2)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459206)

Well, I think Cameron really wants to sort the UK's finances out but he may not be doing exactly the right thing - it's all about delaying the inevitable financial meltdown a la Argentina but it's going to happen eventually. We don't exactly have the US corporate-owned system but it's not far off however we have a fairly free press and television still and there isn't nearly as much partisan commentary (on TV at least) so it evens out.

My real problem with the UK Government using IT to turn up tax cheats is that it'll be pissing money into a bottomless pit and whatever extra revenue they dig up won't come close to compensating the effort, just like criminal asset seizure and the Child Support Agency.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459366)

The thing is you don't need a "robot" to do it. You just need to ask - by which I mean introduce or use existing legislation to force - eBay to supply details of all UK registered sellers.

Don't Overgeneralize (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459348)

> If the government in the UK is anything like ours in the US they're just a bunch of shameful crooks baselessly wasting money to further their own agenda while completely ignoring their citizens.

Our government in the US is huge. There are crooks and there are crooks, and there are also good people of varying degree. Some spend their lives in public service because they like helping people. Have you ever met a defense attorney good enough to get a much better job, for example?

There are also a lot of functionaries, some of whom are useless and some of whom are trying to do the right thing and some of whom are trying to improve the system.

And yes, there are a lot of crooks. More crooks on the local level, bigger crooks on the national level. There are places in the US you can't get a water meter or approval of good architectural plans without a bribe.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459384)

Because governments all work on the delusion that everything belongs to them and that they're being kind by letting you possess some money or non-monetary objects.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459468)

Just a reminder folks. -1 Troll != -1 I disagree
Learn how to properly moderate or fuck off.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459810)

bunch of shameful crooks baselessly wasting money to further their own agenda

I pay my taxes, why shouldn't someone who makes his living on ebay pay his as well.
We complain about goverment cuts, but then when the goverment probes freely avalible information to claim their lawful income we also complain.

Pick one, you can have a functioning govement with money to act and improve your services, but you have to pay tax, or you can give up the NHS, and all the other functions the govement carries out. Most of which are taken for granted by the general public as its much more fun to complain about the things that are wrong.

Re:I like how they think people actually owe them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36460350)

The government's never done shit for me, why should I pay them a single cent?

"Cheating the Government" (4, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459056)

This reminds me of the US Senator who declared the necessity of an Internet sales tax on the grounds that people were "cheating the government" by not remitting tax voluntarily on their online purchases. This program seems to come from the same sentiments, and thus I feel towards it as I did towards that Senator: first, the government is not a legitimate entity unto itself. I can't cheat the government, I can only cheat my fellow citizens and myself out of some worthy use of those potential tax dollars. Change your attitude before you start bitching about what people do and don't pay. Second, between better handling the multiple trillions of dollars you already manage in a year and hounding the public for yet another thirty billion you feel you're owed in internet sales taxes, you seriously choose the thirty billion? Third, collecting money at retail is already the most regressive and indirect way of taxing the economy to run the government. You should be abolishing the sales tax entirely and making a more sensible personal and corporate income tax structure, not worrying about the fraction of the sales tax people do not pay.

Bottom line, systems like this are missing the forest in favor of getting self righteous and nit picky about the trees.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (3, Interesting)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459128)

actually, i think it's targeting businesses who trade solely within the UK and are not paying their taxes because they use the internet to remove the paper trail.

in which case, i say go for it, UK govt. just don't think it entitles you to collect tax on transactions with an overseas component, or individuals who trade online casually. apply the same controls and exemptions that are applied with irl trading.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459186)

Well, the article seems to say otherwise. It talks about tracking down not just businesses, but handymen, tutors, individual online buyers, and others via comparing their internet purchases and other financial information against their 'legitimate' income. I only addressed the sales tax part that the summary talked about, but in fact the system does specifically target individuals and it does so for even more than sales taxes.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459862)

bah! in that case it's more nanny state bullshit.

people will just do it over email again.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (-1, Flamebait)

ktappe (747125) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459182)

the government is not a legitimate entity unto itself. I can't cheat the government, I can only cheat my fellow citizens and myself out of some worthy use of those potential tax dollars.

Ah, nothing like a tax story to bring the "illegitimate government" buffoons down from the trees....

Re:"Cheating the Government" (4, Informative)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459218)

Uh...yeah. Just how you read "illegitimate government" into my statements I don't know. I'm saying the government works for us, and thus doesn't have any rights or need for income other than to serve us. I'm not even distantly implying any sort of strict Constitutionalist militia bullshit here. It's a perfectly nice and legitimate government, it just needs some god damn priorities.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (1)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460012)

Uh...yeah. Just how you read "illegitimate government" into my statements I don't know.

You wrote "the government is not a legitimate entity", leaving two interpretations of your position:

1. The government is an entity, but it is not legitimate.
2. The government is not an entity.

ktappe charitably went for the first, slightly less nutty reading.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (2)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460276)

You're misquoting. He said "the government is not a legitimate entity unto itself". The "unto itself" part is important.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (1)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460374)

The government creates a legal code which defines the very concept of "legitimacy" within a state; I would have thought that a government is almost the only entity which could be said to be a "legitimate entity unto itself". Repressive dictatorial regime? Might be illegitimate according to a UN ruling, but it's still legitimate unto itself. A private firm in a governed state? Legitimate, but not unto itself, since it did not create the laws.

Perhaps we have different interpretations of "legitimate unto itself"; the Oxford English Dictionary lists 29 separate definitions for "unto", not counting sub-definitions, so it would hardly be surprising. I imagine some misunderstanding was involved, since RobinEggs subsequently called the government "legitimate". I was just enlightening RobinEggs as to how ktappe read "illegitimate government" into his or her statements.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (1)

narftrek (549077) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460390)

The second nutty version is the correct interpretation he was going for though. The government doesn't have to feed itself or pay it's rent or any other thing a real being would have to do. As he said it only exists, in theory, to serve us. The government has no power to do anything if we don't allow it (again in theory cause we know who has the guns and tanks). When we get tired of it, we throw it out and get a new one. I suppose this is why the new presidents always say something along the lines of "the people have spoken" or "a mandate by the people." With the way they act though, I am surprised they can even say that without choking on their own words.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459530)

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legitimacy_(political)
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Failed_state
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_as_a_Vocation

Notice the change around 2006?

Re:"Cheating the Government" (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459392)

You should be abolishing the sales tax entirely and making a more sensible personal and corporate income tax structure, not worrying about the fraction of the sales tax people do not pay.

Oh you're one of those are you? I'd rather pay more in consumption taxes and less on my income and savings. Income taxes are already high enough, making it harder than necessary to save and plan or prepare for my future.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (1)

locofungus (179280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459396)

In the UK if you run a "trade" then you are required to submit accounts to HMRC and, if necessary, pay tax on any profit.

For ebayers, this would be people who buy stuff with the intention of reselling it. It does not apply to people who are just having a clearing out.

For small traders the "accounts" can comprise of basically a few lines - income, expenditure, profit. HMRC can ask for a more detailed breakdown (which is why you're required to keep records for seven years - might be three for small traders) but by default you don't need to.

Once your turnover exceeds 75K (I think) you're also required to register for VAT. This means that you have to charge VAT on your sales but can reclaim it on your purchases. VAT is much more onerous than the P&L accounting and I could see it being prohibitive for a low margin high volume ebay business. But reading between the lines in TFA I think HMRC are looking for income tax cheats rather than VAT issues.

Tim.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459736)

Some people seem to forget that there's a distinct cultural and social difference between the US(along with Canada) and most of Europe. The main being that in Europe the government isn't an agent of the people.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459738)

This is actually different to the US situation you describe because it's about income tax, not sales tax. Or, at least, my take on the summary is that the point of checking eBay is to find people who make their income selling stuff there and tax them on that income, not to find people who buy things there and make them pay VAT on them.

Re:"Cheating the Government" (1)

Mantrid42 (972953) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459818)

I can't cheat the government, I can only cheat my fellow citizens and myself out of some worthy use of those potential tax dollars. Change your attitude before you start bitching about what people do and don't pay.

Setting aside purchases through services like iTunes and Steam, are the goods you buy online delivered via taxpayer funded public roads?

Re:"Cheating the Government" (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460260)

... first, the government is not a legitimate entity unto itself.

I think possiby the word you are looking for is "legal entity" - to quote Wikipedia:

The term legal entity is used:

        * to refer to a juristic person, an artificial entity that the law treats for some purposes as if it were a person, such as an incorporated organization.

        * as a general term to describe all entities recognized by the law, including both juristic and natural persons.

As far as I can see, a government IS a "legal entity" - you can take the government to court, can't you?

I can't cheat the government, ...

And thus you can, in fact, cheat the government.

I can only cheat my fellow citizens and myself out of some worthy use of those potential tax dollars

So that's OK then? If anything, I think it is worse to cheat your fellow citizens, since most individuals have less money than the government.

... you seriously choose the thirty billion?

"Only thirty billion"? Is that you, Mr Gates, Sir?

... making a more sensible personal and corporate income tax structure ...

What? Make rich people and corporations actually pay taxes? How realistic is that in a world where multinationals somehow make all their money on the Isle of Jersey or other tax havens? Sadly, we have yet to solve that prblem - perhaps if we could agree on a world government. And back it up with real, political power, which as we all know, grows out of the barrel of a gun.

How can you know "earnings" from eBay? (2)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459088)

I pretty much sell everything at a loss...

I don't see where eBay reports the "cost of goods"... and don't forget the 9% or eBay fee... or 3.x% for paypal...

Re:How can you know "earnings" from eBay? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459130)

They don't have to know earnings from eBay.

HMRC are allowed to ask for more information on your tax return. You must keep records for at least 3 years, I think. If you give them this information and it confirms that you sell everything at a loss, fine (and you'd probably be able to claim tax breaks in this case).

I suspect all they're doing is finding people who are _probably_ making significant money and not declaring it and using this as a prompt to ask for more information. Personally, I don't see this as wrong (as long as the amount it costs isn't more than it returns).

Re:How can you know "earnings" from eBay? (1)

astrotek (132325) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459164)

In the USA, the IRS is going to require credit card processors to report what they pay businesses. It's very easy to spot a business that doesn't report or under reports their cash transactions. It was easy to cheat on but when the average business in the sector makes 20% of their revenue from cash and a 5% profit on their revenue they stand out like a sore thumb if they get greedy.

I'd imagine that the British are doing the same thing. They are just looking for people that fall outside the a standard deviation or two for whatever sector they are in.

Lost to the treasury? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459092)

TFA/S

The decision to target cyberspace to hunt down those evading tax comes as HMRC continues its campaign to recover around £7 billion lost to the Treasury each year.

How do they know how much is "lost"? Is it "MAFIAA accounting - type" again? Or is it, somehow, a "corporate mission" in disguise for the "target-collection for the next FY. Guys, this is how much we need!"? Or what? .

Statist accounting... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459136)

1) Gov: "Hmm, I see 1000 people a day picking their nose in the park - let's charge a $100 fine for picking your nose in public." That will raise $100,000!
2) Gov: Let's allocate the anticipated $100,000 nose picking fee to "disadvantaged children of bankers who need a free needle exchange so they stay high and don't nuke the gay whales"
3) Reality: people stop picking their nose in the park.
4) Gov: Crap - the budget is $100,000 short! let's get the taxpayers to agree to a hike, or we cut police and fire fighter jobs!

Re:Lost to the treasury? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459174)

There are well-defined (if not necessarily easy to understand, and possibly easy to work-around at times) rules about how much tax you must pay. All HMRC are doing is looking at new ways to find people who might not be.

Note that this issue is completely different from the Internet sales tax in the US (where there is a valid question as to whether it is due).

This is about people not declaring all their income to HMRC. For example, builders/plumbers/electricians who are paid "cash in hand" (i.e. no paper trail) might be tempted not to declare their income. If they declare no income but HMRC finds them advertising this business on line, that seems like a good reason to ask them for more details. Similarly, people who have eBay stores "on the side" might not declare the income they make.

Re:Lost to the treasury? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459282)

Similarly, people who have eBay stores "on the side" might not declare the income they make.

The way I know, eBay doesn't make public the identity of the seller, only the nickname. So, either I am wrong or eBay lets HMRC access to private information? Google too? Or what?

Re:Lost to the treasury? (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459436)

HMRC is a result of combining Inland Revenue with Her Majesty's Customs and Excise. As a result of that HMRC got all of HMCE's scary powers. HMCE don't, for example, need a warrant to kick your front door in, unlike the police (they have both power of entry and power of arrest). I strongly suspect they can require access to eBay's records without much difficulty as well.

Re:Lost to the treasury? (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459298)

It's an estimate based upon how much money the suspect is being underreported or unreported and the tax which would be applied if it were properly reported. It's something that most if not all government's do, it's a way of keeping an eye on whether or not they need more enforcement or audits.

It's difficult to really know since no government ever gets 100% of what they should and the tax is by definition not collected.

MAFIAA accounting OTOH is overtly fraudulent and is made solely so that they can cry poor whenever they need more help enforcing their rights. The HMRC in this case is at least in theory trying to be a bit more even handed about it. I know in the US there are similar figures estimating how much more money the government is theoretically entitled to but can't for whatever reason collect.

Vader... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459104)

Something about Lord Vader being warned by Princess Leia comes to mind here...

What these imbeciles haven't figured out yet is that their TAXES ARE TOO HIGH so people have to get creative to avoid the damn things... Make them more reasonable and fair, learn how to run the government on LESS MONEY, CUT THE BUDGETS, and they won't have so much of these issues...

As for the so-called "loss of 7 billion" - yeah right.. whatever. You don't have it now and are doing just fine. Chances are you'll keep doing just fine without it if you don't get it. CUT THE BUDGET... stop wasting money on bullshit...

Re:Vader... (1)

cshark (673578) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459242)

Even so, nothing short of a full audit of these systems will uncover anything.
If you're announcing that you're going to be doing it, you're giving people time to figure out how to be creative in evading the robots.
It's just mind boggling to me that they would even try something like this.

Re:Vader... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459318)

Yes, but you're also giving people that are less willing to risk getting caught up in an audit the chance to come clean in the future. A lot of that income didn't get reported because nobody was looking for it and there wasn't an inherent paper trail. I'm not sure about over there, but over here it can be really confusing figuring out how to pay your taxes if you're a part time tutor working for cash. Even if you aren't deliberately trying to defraud the government it gets really confusing figuring out how much you should pay, to whom at what time in the year.

Not that I necessarily advocate it, but it's not realistic to pay an accountant if you're just doing a bit of tutoring for pocket money. The hassle of paying up is pretty unreasonable. Might be different in places with an income tax, but around here it's sales tax, property tax and a few business taxes.

Re:Vader... (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459454)

What you haven't worked out is that some people consider any tax to be too high and will do whatever they can to not pay it.

Not that I'd object to us officially moving our office to Dubai, where income tax is 0%.

fuck the government, all of them (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459118)

if the governments stuck to their few legitimate functions or providing truly public goods then it would cost about 90% less

1. prevent foreign invasion
2. punish those who engage in fraud, theft, or threaten or commit violence
3. enforce property rights
4. provide a non-violent method of resolving disputes

anything else is politicians stealing from a group without favor to give to a group that has favor

appropriate fortune:Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. There might be a law against it by that time.

I wouldn't want to live in your country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459236)

if the governments stuck to their few legitimate functions or providing truly public goods then it would cost about 90% less

1. prevent foreign invasion
2. punish those who engage in fraud, theft, or threaten or commit violence
3. enforce property rights
4. provide a non-violent method of resolving disputes

anything else is politicians stealing from a group without favor to give to a group that has favor

What of
5) Education
6) Health care
7) Transport infrastructure
8) Unemployment benefits
9) Old age pensions
10) Parks and community recreation facilities
11) Emergency services
and, no doubt, many more I just can't think of at present.

Re:I wouldn't want to live in your country (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459324)

You don't pay any of those other things because it'll decrease the surplus population.

Re:I wouldn't want to live in your country (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459352)

Health care is not the duty of a government, it is the duty of either an employer or an individual. Old age pensions should be paid to those who worked either by their employer or from a fund managed by the person. Parks and recreation should be handled by communities rather than the government. For instance, at least where I live, parks are installed by the developer as a means of making a neighborhood more attractive to potential buyers.

Especially at the highest level of government, such as the British government in this piece, most of the issues you stated should not be of concern. Rather, more localized governments should be taking care of this stuff. And, in fact, they do.

Re:I wouldn't want to live in your country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459602)

Health care is the Responsibility of the Government they get monies from the population for that the only reason it is in trouble is that they (the government) are too scared to tell the boat hopping tunnel crawling unwanted tossers to go FO they just pay them and give them OUR medical care free gratis nowt wrong with the NHS just the way it is leached on . (Parks and recreation should be handled by communities rather than the government) yea we got a few of those full of dog crap cus the dog walkers gate crash them total garbage idea

(localized governments should be taking care of this stuff. And, in fact, they do) Hummmmmmm dunno where you got that idea from most local councils/governments are run by blacks for blacks and are useless at almost every single thing. round here a paki get knocked over (because it ran across the road without looking) the shit hits the fan a white kid gets killed they could not give a toss and sweep it under the mat they will even take the press to court to keep it out of the papers
and that is just the very top tip of the iceberge
 

Re:I wouldn't want to live in your country (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459556)

What of
5) Education
6) Health care
7) Transport infrastructure
8) Unemployment benefits
9) Old age pensions
10) Parks and community recreation facilities
11) Emergency services
and, no doubt, many more I just can't think of at present.

As much as you might want them to be none of those are public goods. The users are the ones who receive the vast majority of the benefits. I would argue that food is more important than education yet we don't have government food distribution. Instead we have private enterprise distributing food. There is no reason any of those items listed can't be handled the same way.

bailing out the banks (4, Insightful)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459586)

bailing out the insurance companies

foisting a ponzi-scheme fraud bank privitization scheme, complete with payed-for glowing papers written by bought-off US ivy league academics, on a small, defenseless nation (iceland) and then declaring them terrorists when they refuse to pay you protection money, as though you were some 3rd rate mafia knee-breaker

providing a 'back office' for american companies like AIG to conduct unregulated business activites, like writing credit default swaps against CDO tranches of subprime mortgage securities. of course many experts in the industry call CDS 'gambling' and the CDO business a "ponzi scheme", but don't let that stop your regulators from ignoring what was happening.

when your regulators are actually needed to bend the rules, and prevent a Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, which would toss the entire planet into chaos after it makes the Primary Reserve Fund money market fund lose money, freaking out just about everyone whose job it is to manage money, well, you take your financial regulators, and instead of helping the US prevent this, instead you act all of a sudden like you need to actually care about regulation.

did i mention that the british taxpayers had to take over some of the british banks, pay their debts off? i.e. pay the armani wearing maserati driving hedge fund managers, bank executives, etc, who caused this CDO / CDS mess in the first place?

but god forbid you sell stuff on ebay without reporting it properly.

Re:bailing out the banks (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460250)

If I was of particularly cynical mind, I would say that the banks did everything legally - albeit using a rather creative interpretation of what they could get away with - and fighting in a court of law would cost a fortune with precious little guarantee of success.

Individuals making a bit of cash on the side, OTOH, probably aren't doing everything 100% legally simply because in order to work around the system you almost invariably need an accountant who knows all the little holes in tax legislation back to front and inside out. It's not cost-effective to hire such an accountant unless you're saving tax in the tens of thousands minimum.

I reckon someone in government has looked at something like spokeo [spokeo.com] and thought to themselves "Hey... if we had a system like that where we could punch someone's name in and it'd come back telling us exactly what their house is worth, how big their mortgage is, what sort of car they drive, how much income they declared, how much they sold on ebay or gumtree or whatever - we could find every last tax dodger! Even better, if we could integrate it with the system that accepts and records people's tax return, we could churn out a report at the end of each tax year telling us exactly who to target!"

Re:fuck the government, all of them (3, Insightful)

bughunter (10093) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460618)

anything else is politicians stealing from a group without favor to give to a group that has favor

Sorry, but that's just your opinion, and a minority opinion in the grand history of the USA. Coincidentally, your opinion is also held by an over-represented minority with a disproportionate voice because they won't shut up, congregate on soap boxes, and shout down (or character assassinate) those who hold opposing views.

These are facts: Since the United States rejected slavery and moved from an Agrarian economy to an Industrial one, the majority of its citizens (and I mean real people -- not wealthy businessmen hiding behind legal entities for the purpose of avoiding liability for white collar larceny, fraud and neglect -- but human beings), have consistently decided for most of its history that they also require a government that does more, e.g.: provides common universal social services such as education, healthcare, pensions, and mass transportation; maintains, manages and improves the commons, such as roads, ports, radio spectrum, and the environment; and most essentially puts checks and balances on the power of large, wealthy corporate persons to ensure that human beings aren't defrauded, neglected, poisoned, or robbed of their wealth or political influence and to prevent the tragedy of the commons -- something that those who have wanted to commit fraud, larceny and to pillage the commons have never been happy about at all.

I don't need to provide a citation for these claims, they're obvious to anyone who paid attention in school, or who was born before the Reagan administration. That was about the time that very wealthy special interests finally were able to influence the political process enough to weaken the government's ability to do the last bit, above, while the public was distracted with bread and circuses and watergate/vietnam burnout.

Now this is my opinion, and it's just as valid as yours: The idea that government has a role limited only to the four functions you list is fine in theory, but as soon as you try to make it work in practice, it reverts to a plutocracy -- or worse. So it's no coincidence that its plutocrats and plutocrat-wannabe's (and worse) are the ones who embrace this brand of libertarianism, and are pissed off that they haven't just been handed a license to pillage the commons, steal from the public, and generally be free to behave like sociopaths because they are superior to the hoi polloi. And now that they've had their way with our government for 25 years or so, the commons are being looted, polluted and denuded, the economy is in shambles, and we're well on our way to becoming a full-fledged plutocracy -- or worse.

The claim that a government which doesn't protect the public from these sociopaths, and which makes public improvements accessible equally to all, is stealing from one group and giving to another that has favor is the epitome of ironic projection. Because the position that government should only soldier, police, convict and incarcerate is held mainly by people who wish to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a favored few -- themselves -- and would use the soldiers and police to maintain that status quo.

But that's just my opinion, after fifty years of observation.

MegaCorps & The Rich And Famous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459122)

It would be interesting to see how much tax the British megacorps (HSBC, BP, BHP Billiton, GlaxoSmithKline, etc.) pay and how much the Rich and Famous remit every year. I bet the megacorps have their tax shelters and the Rich and Famous have their tax havens. This is just about squeezing even more out of the Lower Middle Class (I believe that's the correct British term, but please correct me if I'm wrong).

Target the teachers (0)

ktappe (747125) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459190)

people earning second incomes by acting as private tutors.

Ah, yes. Because we all know it's the teachers who are responsible for the budget shortfalls. Wisconsin recently proved that. [/sarcasm]

Re:Target the teachers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459292)

I'd argue that in a democracy, providing education to the populace (you know... the foundation on which democracy is built) should be considered as providing a service for the greater good, and income earned by doing so should be tax free.

Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459266)

Hammer everyone to the letter of the law. Get them all, for every last penny they're "supposed" to owe.

Then watch people finally, finally get fed up, get off their apathetic asses, and fight back.

Re:Good. (4, Informative)

locofungus (179280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459532)

At least in the UK I would think the majority of people already pay 'every last penny they're "supposed" to owe.'

We have something called PAYE which every employer uses to (hopefully) correctly take income tax at source.

Interest and dividends are also taxed at source and for basic rate taxpayers there will be no additional tax to pay. People who don't reach the income tax threshold can submit a form R85 to their bank/building society to receive their interest without tax deducted. Dividend tax cannot be reclaimed any more - this was "Gordon Brown's great pension heist" that is oft talked about.

Higher rate tax payers do have some extra tax to pay but HMRC applies a "fudge factor" (tax coding) to the PAYE system to balance it out. For example my tax code consists of a component for the tax free allowance, a component for tax relief on pension contributions, a component for tax relief on charitable giving and a component for the tax due on health insurance benefits. You get a letter from the tax office explaining how your tax code was calculated and you can ask to have the calculation redone if you think the numbers aren't correct.

At the end of the year, for most people, this is so close to being right that nobody, neither HMRC, nor the taxpayer, wants the hassle of "fixing" the errors of a few pounds here and there.

For some people HMRC requires them to submit a tax return at the end of the year. For these people there will be a balancing payment made or received and the tax will be exactly correct.

Additionally, anybody is allowed to submit a tax return if they want. I would estimate that for a standard employee (maybe with multiple jobs) this amounts to about 1-2 hours of work total - your employer is required by law to give you certain forms, P11D, P85, and you just have to copy these numbers into your tax return. Then it's just finding all those bank accounts and totting up all the interest (again, the bank should give you a certificate of interest paid and tax deducted but with modern online banking you tend to have to remember what accounts you've got rather than receive something through the post to remind you.) Ditto dividends.

Do it online and you get the tax calculation instantly. If you owe tax then you'll have to pay it by 31st Jan of the following year. if you're overpaid tax then, IME, you'll get the money paid into your bank within a month of submitting the tax return.

It's only when you have other sources of income that fall outside the PAYE system that there is even the opportunity for tax evasion (short of outright lying - for example you could claim to make 10K of charitable donations but not make them which would only be caught if/when the taxman does an audit)

Tim.

Re:Good. (2)

Builder (103701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460308)

Very very clear explanation of UK employee taxes there. The only for that you left out for a full year worked is the P60 that your employer should give you. This is a summary of all of your payslips received throughout the year basically.

Which reminds me... I've not had my P11D or my P60 yet. Time to go chase someone.

Nothing bad could possibly come of this (1)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459382)

I mean surely the ebay seller accounts will invariably be traced to the correct individuals, right?

Re:Nothing bad could possibly come of this (1)

locofungus (179280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459570)

Actually, it doesn't really matter. If they think you're an ebay trader then they might ask you to submit a tax return. If you're not an ebay trader then you just don't mention it. They will probably then decide to do an audit (because they think you have undeclared income) and ask to see things like bank account statements. And that will be it.

It could be a bit complicated if you've just been selling off some old junk on ebay and then you'll have to justify the payments coming in. But selling a mobile phone will be easy to explain as "just an old phone that I no longer used", selling 100 mobile phones starts looking like a trade and will be harder to justify.

Tim.

The alternative? Greece (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459534)

Greece is in trouble AND taking the EU with it because among its many faults one thing it doesn't have is an effective tax system. Tax evasion is rive. Now, it is possible to run a state with a minimal tax collection but then the citizens NEED to pay for everything out of there own pocket. Greece also has very big welfare state and countless state projects with lots of kickbacks. The money has to come from somewhere.

Basically, tax evasion is not something harmless and cute, it makes those who pay taxes legit pay for the income of others. And gosh, don't it seem the case that those who evade taxes also benefit the most from state protection? Like politicians living on the state still cheating on it? People living in council funded housing? Employing minimum wage slaves who need their income supplemented by the state because working a full job doesn't pay enough?

Just take a look at Greece to see what happens if the state becomes totally ineffective in collecting taxes. And do you think any greek is going "oh well, we did it ourselves, we will have to sort it out ourselves?" No... every single last one is demanding the rest of the world bail it out after having spend decades already on a money drip.

Tax evasion? We should do it old style. Tax is the price for the privilege of living in a country, don't want to pay? Then the privilege is revoked. I at least am willing to pay the extra tax for the bullet of revocing.

Re:The alternative? Greece (0)

value (2182292) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460000)

Tax is the price for the privilege of living in a country, don't want to pay? Then the privilege is revoked. I at least am willing to pay the extra tax for the bullet of revocing.

Are you suggesting killing people who don't pay taxes?

How can you be against slavery if you would happily kill someone who doesn't play by your rules. That is slavery. Suppose your rules are the tax system. People who don't play by the rules, you kill them.

Re:The alternative? Greece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36460536)

You are right, and in a more perfect world, I would share the same opinion.
But are you prepared to pay the tax for waste. The UK government has proven to be very good at wasting money and offers very little in return.
Public transportation: not so great. Health care: not so great...

Furthermore, this government is going after quick and easy winds. The big wins are corporations who commit fraud. But that is too difficult to deal with, as agencies would need to be competent at corporate accounting. Si, I find it interesting that the country takes a turn to petty tax evasion, when it is not exactly making much progress in getting the money where it really is.

Just my 2 pennies.

What is the maximum brokerage that a broker/sub (0)

commodityfever (2087640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459542)

I am from india i have some problem in investing money in market, the problem is What are the products dealt in the secondary markets?and What is the maximum brokerage that a broker/sub broker can charge?i reads on internet many blog and article but not found good answer, Stock Market [sonictrades.com] || Nifty Intraday Calls [sonictrades.com]

Will it work? (1)

David Off (101038) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459610)

The UK Revenue come up with these kind of big statements now and again but I think they will make more money out of the FUD factor than from the actual bots - that is if they can get a working system. Without information from ISPs etc it will be difficult to tie most eBay identities to an actual tax payer, the amount of information to trawl and reconcile will be enormous and the SNR very high.

Vodaphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459612)

Of course, a better solution would be to make Vodaphone and the other mega-corps actually pay the bills that they owe. HMRC does not have a good record on that. *Private Eye* has been keeping track. So, this is just specious propaganda.

little fish, big fish (cardboard box) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459646)

While undoubtedly everyone should do their duty and cough up a percentage of any income they make to ensure the streets sparkle, the hospitals cure and the schools educate, I wonder if it wouldn't be more immediately worthwhile to go after slightly larger evaders of tax. I Am Not A Tax Advisor, but if Private Eye is to be trusted (and of course I do, blindly), large corporations evade on such a huge scale that HMRC might have found one third of the £7B in a single company - Vodafone: http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&issue=1289

Except that HMRC struck a deal with them to recover only a fraction of the tax they evaded. And no interest. You will read the article, I am sure, so I don't need to also point out that another big fish that apparently got off the hook is Goldman Sachs, owing £20M in interest alone. How many thieving Gumtree sellers does that equate to, I ask myself.

(Posting AC only because I can't remember/recover my password.)

Tax collected. What happens next with the money? (1)

Max_W (812974) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459648)

An effort should be made also to perfect the system of spending public money. Not only collecting.

Squandering of public money, corruption, etc. make people unwilling to give away the hard earned money for a waste.

Never mind Vodafone (3, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459710)

Never mind the six billion quid HMRC let Vodafone off [guardian.co.uk] for free. You can now measure cuts to services in percentages of a Vodafone.

Or George Osborne's personal tax evasion [channel4.com].

No, it's all the eBay traders. Yes, they must be the problem.

Bizarre benefits fraud excuses revealed (1, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459762)

THE OSBOURNES, Bog Society, Sunday (NTN) — A survey by fraud investigators has revealed the top ten worst excuses [newstechnica.com] used by the evil benefit cheats depriving you, yes you, of valuable pennies you could have put toward your next pint.

  • * "We didn't realise the NHS needed that six billion quid, we just had to make a few million phone calls."
  • * "Don't tell me you give a shit about the tax your supermarket pays if you get your milk 2p cheaper."
  • * "It was a necessary and unavoidable cost of doing business to route every penny through Switzerland."
  • * "Kate Moss on my arm or you getting to study. I mean, let's get serious here."

"Benefit fraud is no joke," said welfare reform minister Lord Fraud, "and yet our investigators are routinely dealing with barefaced cheek and ridiculous excuses for stealing money from the taxpayer.

"Fortunately, they're mates of George's, so we can get on with scapegoating victims we're fairly sure probably can't fight back. You weren't limping on the way in here, were you?"

Re:Never mind Vodafone (3, Informative)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460590)

There's a telling paragraph in that article:

HMRC's press office dismisses the £6bn tax write-off as an "urban myth". But the Eye's calculations on the lost income are based on publicly available accounts which detail the vast wealth of Vodafone's Luxembourg subsidiary. They add in the lost income that comes from the Revenue allowing Vodafone to continue with other tax-reducing wheezes. The Revenue, by contrast, offers questioners nothing beyond bluster and unsubstantiated assertion.

Translation: the headline £6bn figure is only partially made up of the money HMRC said they hadn't been paid and they got that money in court. The rest of the money wasn't paid because they'd used legal means to pay less tax.

There's a difference between that and just not paying taxes as required by the law.

Is HMRC a hacker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459728)

Is what they are doing legal and does it break ebay's T&Cs?

Dirk

Oh yummie - now THAT opens a can of worms.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459800)

Honestly? Trawling the web for tax offenders?

I don't know how long it is going to take to rig false information to point to thousands of innocent people, but I think that will be measured in days at most. The UK tax office has the rather bizarre ability to tax you for some arbitrary amount at which point you are required to prove they have tit wrong (in contrast with your human rights where you are innocent until proven guilty), which is a feature they enthusiastically abuse - whilst not getting their own house in order..

Probably won't get any more tax... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36459886)

Trying to get cash in hand handymen and other small traders to declare their income would likely backfire. As soon as these guys start to do their taxes properly, they will claim back expenses and input VAT and the treasury will likely end up out of pocket instead of the other way around as they are hoping.

Google - that well known tax avoider (1)

Builder (103701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36459940)

Hmmm, so they'll use the tools of a well known tax avoider to go after other people avoiding their fair share of taxes. Nice...

Better to focus on the big fish (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460034)

This just sounds like another game where they're focussing on the little guys whilst ignoring the big tax avoiders.

Like this guy, who's a member of the House of Lords (comparable to the Senate, except half of the members get inn through birthright): http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/mar/04/lord-ashcroft-vat-conservative-polls [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Better to focus on the big fish (2)

drunkahol (143049) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460378)

Correction. None of the Lords get in by birthright. There are 88 hereditary peers currently from the total of 789 members of the House of Lords. Of the 88 hereditary peers, 15 are elected by the whole house (700 of whom are not hereditary remember). The rest are allocated to political parties to match the ratios of non-hereditary peers.

So - a pretty piss poor description of the House of Lords from you.

It also doesn't take much investigation (or even reading of the newspapers) to find that tax evasion is something that happens across the spectrum of political affiliation. When HMRC call it tax avoidance, it becomes legal. Evasion is illegal, avoidance is legal. That's the terminology used.

Complain all you like about whether one person falls in the evasion or the avoidance pile. Complain all you like about the rules. They do, however, apply to all of us in the UK.

D

Taking the easy route (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36460164)

I find it interesting when governments start emphasizing on petty fraud, while they are still not equipped to deal with major fraud of corporations. I guess someone is after quick wins and short term rewards, rather than dealing with something meaningful. The UK government is still not able to handle, let alone understand accounting practices of large corporations. Perhaps they would like to get the money where it can be found, but that takes effort of course...

uk uncut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36460258)

UK uncut already found quite a few billion of tax avoidance. maybe the gov should have a look at that.

Ebay traders might owe £7billion tax... (2)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 2 years ago | (#36460476)

And meanwhile Dave Hartnett is letting multinational companies get away with tax fraud on an enormous scale. Vodafone, who actually saved the money for the interest on the tax bill they knew they should pay, have paid none of it. They even declared the amount 'saved' as a windfall profit. Apparently HMRC got no less than every penny they could from Vodafone. http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&issue=1289 [private-eye.co.uk]

They're just the biggest one. There are several cases where Hartnett, who doesn't seem to know a lot about tax, has made agreements with companies to settle tax bills against the guidance, or without the knowledge, of the actual tax experts who work for him. £0.95 Billion from Vodafone was sitting there to be taken - because they'd actually been reasonably honest in a sense - and somehow that got ignored. But it's OK, we'll make up the difference by pestering people on ebay over the amount of money they made on some junk they bought from ebay.

Anyone want to wager that the tax recovered probably doesn't cover the cost of landfill and environmental disposal for most of the crap that will get binned rather than sold on ebay?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...