HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is planning to use robot software to find evidence on individuals or companies they suspect are evading tax.
Over the next year, the HMRC said it will use ‘web robot’ software, alongside its Connect computer system, to trawl the web and detect those who fail to pay the correct amount of tax.
The Connect computer system alerts the HMRC to previously invisible tax evasion by matching HMRC and third-party data, enabling a fast and focused response to tax evasion, an HMRC spokesperson explained.
‘It will shine a light onto previously hidden relationships, uncovering anomalies between bank interests, property income and lifestyle indicators before homing in on unexplained inconsistencies,’ he added.
Fitness instructors and businesses using eBay and Gumtree to sell goods will come under scrutiny, and the government department is urging all those who may be guilty of owing tax to come forward now and disclose their activities before the initiative is put into action.
Mike Wells, HMRC’s director of risk and intelligence, said: ‘By being open about our areas of interest of the coming year, we hope to maximise that exchange of information and ensure we reduce the tax gap and help customers pay what they owe.
‘We will use the information we gather to pursue people who choose not to use the opportunities provided 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’.
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