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On-line sellers beware!

Last month, HMRC raided warehouses and seized more than £500,000 of goods they believe were illegally being offered to UK online shoppers at VAT-free prices, in response to evidence of a large and growing fraud by sellers using Amazon and eBay. There are now apparently more than 75 live investigations into this kind of suspected VAT fraud and this is expect to double this year
As with tax avoidance schemes, in addition to their usual powers, HMRC and Government are now using media coverage to attack such activities as morally wrong.  
We have long known that HMRC were looking closely at on-line retailers, particularly those using Ebay and with the increasing volume of goods purchased on-line, these activities are inevitably going to continue.
If you have sold personal items on-line, this is unlikely to create any difficulty. However, if you are buying and selling with a view to making a profit, this is a business just like any other. As we have noted in previous articles, HMRC now have sophisticated tools at their disposal and will not hesitate to follow these up. If you have not declared an on-line business, it may only be a matter of time.