Direct sellers targeted in new tax investigations

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has recently launched another amnesty to people who sell door-to-door, either householders or businesses and is giving them until 28 February next year to pay any outstanding tax bills, in return for which, he or she will face lower penalties for having come forward.

The amnesty is open to all self-employed direct sellers, whether they call themselves agents, consultants, representatives’ or distributors.  It also includes people who demonstrate a product in a customer’s home, or at a party, or by using catalogues. And anyone who takes commission on the sales they make is included, even if they only sell to friends and relatives, and whether it is their full or part-time job.

According to HMRC, a lot of direct sellers who started before April 6 last year won’t have told them about extra income they have derived from direct selling,  so probably won’t have paid the correct amount of tax.

Therefore, the taxman is advocating a “fresh start”, whereby the direct seller can tell HMRC how much penalty they think they might have to pay and then arrange to pay it, maybe even in instalments.

Completing a disclosure form is only applicable to people who started as a direct seller before April 6 last year but HMRC advises anyone who took up the business since then to register with them and to get professional help if they need it.

And the next campaign planned by HMRC is the Trades campaign – Home Improvement Sweep Up, which will carry on the work of the Plumbers’ Safe Tax Plan and Electricians’ Safe Tax Plan campaigns.

This campaign will focus on trades people working in a variety of skilled areas such as roofing, window fitting, carpentry, bricklaying, and joinery and is aimed at trades people working in the home improvement sector with unpaid tax, who have yet to come forward, to bring their tax affairs up to date in a straightforward way using a time limited opportunity.