Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Are HMRC watching you?

Mark Lee, Chairman of the Tax Advice Network, has issued a warning that HMRC are cracking down on businesses that use the internet to trade. As part of this they are monitoring social media and blogging sites in the same way that they monitor small ads in local papers and more recently Ebay and other online ‘auction’ sites. There are two things taxpayers need to remember. First, any information about their business that gets published on the web may be looked at by HMRC. Second, any income earned online – even relatively small sums, perhaps earned as an affiliate – must be declared.

There are literally hundreds of online social media websites and facilities available to those wishing to do business and many have a big focus on business as distinct from, or in addition to the ‘social’ aspect of the site. The most common business focused sites include Ecademy, LinkedIn, BT Tradespace and UK Business Forums. In each case forum comments, member profiles and blogs effectively remain in the public domain forever, even after someone thinks they have deleted it. The same is true of personal websites and blogs, which appear to be promoting a business, or through Google Adsense campaigns or through affiliate sales.

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