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People trading on online sites such as eBay, Gumtree and Etsy need to get their tax affairs in order as the HMRC wields extended legal powers giving it access to customer account details. The powers, which enable the HMRC to track down individuals who are not declaring their earnings, are an extension of the HMRC’s e-marketplace campaign of 2012.

Lee Bradley, Tax Director at Swansea accountancy firm Bevan & Buckland, said a significant number of the firm’s clients now sell through online marketplaces.

“We have seen a large increase in new businesses selling online via platforms such as eBay and Amazon” he said.

“The VAT/tax rules can get quite complicated especially when you start to sell to the EU or further afield (for example, in the USA). We have been dealing with a lot of queries from online clients and have become very knowledgeable in this area.”

The new powers are not aimed at penalising occasional online sellers, but set out to make sure online business traders pay their taxes. However, HMRC has not stated at what point a casual seller becomes a trader liable to pay tax. It has been reported that 14,000 online traders have received tax demands – some, according to The Telegraph, with profits of just £100.

Others have made a substantial profit online. One of the most high profile convictions so far was online trader John Woolfenden, who was jailed for two years late last year. He sold DVDs, CDs and games through sites including eBay, with nearly £1.4 million passing through his online bank accounts over a six-year period.

When completing your own accounts, it is worth remembering that any earnings exceeding the annual personal allowance of £10,600 are taxable, as long as they are regarded as profit from a business.

Above all, it is important to speak to an accountant and make sure you are well informed. “As with any law, not knowing is not a defence,” said Lee.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspect of tax and online trading.

If this applies to you please contact Bevan & Buckland, or Lee directly using the details below, as soon as possible.

Lee Bradley
Tax Director
01792 410119


Bevan & Buckland Accountants Swansea Tel: 01792 410100

Bevan & Buckland Accountants Haverfordwest Tel: 01437 760666

Bevan & Buckland Accountants Pembroke Tel: 01646 682383

Bevan & Buckland Accountants Carmarthen Tel: 01267 233115

Bevan & Buckland Accountants St David’s Tel: 01437 720352

Bevan & Buckland Accountants Cardiff Tel: 02920 459960