Bid to tackle online VAT fraud
HMRC is continuing to pressure online marketplaces marketplace (such as eBay or Amazon) to tackle online VAT fraud. Online marketplaces are already accountable for VAT fraud committed by online sellers on their platforms. These measures, known as joint and several liability (JSL) for marketplaces were extended earlier this year to help ensure that all businesses selling goods in the UK follow the same rules and pay the correct amount of VAT due. HMRC has estimated that the tax loss from VAT fraud and error on online marketplaces was between £1 billion and £1.5 billion in 2016-17.
It has now been announced that HMRC will be asking all online marketplaces operating in the UK to sign an agreement to further impact online VAT fraud and errors taking place on their platforms. A list of signatories to the agreement will be published in due course and will be updated to remove any online marketplace that fails to meet their commitments to the agreement.
HMRC says that the agreement will ask online retailers to commit to:
- educating online sellers from the UK and abroad about their VAT obligations in the UK either via their own help and support or by directing them to HMRC’s GOV.UK guidance;
- responding swiftly when notified by HMRC that sellers are not playing by the VAT rules, and setting up a system to take appropriate action;
- finding a suitable and lawful way to provide HMRC with information about their sellers, when requested.
Commenting on the launch of the new agreement, Jon Thompson, HMRC’s Chief Executive, said:
‘The UK has already led the way in holding online marketplaces accountable for VAT fraud committed on their platforms. The agreement goes even further to tackle this issue, with online marketplaces committing to helping their sellers understand their tax responsibilities and ensuring we have the information we need to take action against those who do not play by the rules.’