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HMRC ‘Web Robots’ Tracking Down Tax Cheats

HMRC are using internet-based technologies to collect information to improve their ability to penalise traders who are not registered by using ‘web robots’ as ‘spies’.

Partner Caroline Blake comments “These robots have the ability to identify an online presence for traders, and compare the information shown online to that held within HMRC’s database of registered businesses. By doing so, not only can the taxman check if a trader has registered, but also whether they have registered within the appropriate time limits.”

HMRC claims they can also use the information gathered to correlate undeclared income such as bank interest or rental income, with their ‘Connect’ system, which could result in hefty penalties for offenders. The sophisticated software uses third party data to identify inconsistencies, and can even recognise discrepancies between lifestyle indicators and income declared.

Mike Wells, HMRC’s Director of Risk and Intelligence said “We will use the information we gather to pursue people who choose not to use the opportunities we provide for them to put their affairs in order on the best possible terms. It will be more expensive if we come and find people, so I urge them to come forward and disclose voluntarily.

If you are concerned that you may be affected by the use of ‘web robots’ by HMRC, our advice is to speak to us as soon possible. You can call your mclintocks advisor on 0845 680 7800.