HMRC investigatory powers

Peter Mitchell otcbn at
Wed May 23 11:46:59 BST 2012

"In March 2012 ... HMRC issued online auction sites with information request notices under Section 18A(2) TMA 1970 to provide details of their member lists. The move is significant: if it had waited until April 2012, it would have to use different powers. There is no right of appeal to a tribunal under s18A ... The term "register" in s18A is not defined and so it takes its normal meaning ... S18A is more commonly used by HMRC to obtain details of licence holders, such as market traders from councils ... For a s18A notice to be valid it must in the inspector's reasonable opinion be relevant to any tax liability to which a person is or may be subject or the amount of any such liability." [source Nichola Ross Martin]

The vast majority of people on the e-marketplaces' user lists will not, of course, be liable for any tax at all on their dealings. Hence HMRC's use of an old disclosure power without right of appeal, and without apparent regard for RIPA as a replacement for legacy powers.

Peter Mitchell

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