Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government The Almighty Buck United Kingdom Your Rights Online

British Tax System Uses Web Robots To Find Cheats 190

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-bit-left-unturned dept.
judgecorp writes "HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is extending its campaign against tax cheats with the news that it will use web robots to trawl cyberspace. The system will check eBay and Google to identify traders who aren't declaring all their earnings. From the article: 'The decision to target cyberspace to hunt down those evading tax comes as HMRC continues its campaign to recover around £7 billion lost to the Treasury each year. It is thought that this latest development, the use of ‘web robots’, will help HMRC track down rogue eBay and Gumtree businesses, as well as people earning second incomes by acting as private tutors. It will also help it hunt down so called cash-in-hand handymen and traders.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

British Tax System Uses Web Robots To Find Cheats

Comments Filter:
  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @11:49PM (#36459006)
    Damn and I thought Skynet was bad, or even the Matrix but tax collecting robots? Time for a revolution if you ask me. I won't support our robot masters!
    • by ktappe (747125)

      Time for a revolution if you ask me. I won't support our robot masters!

      Why not? Ken Jennings does.

      • Look!

        We've turned up these Windsor and Mountbatten scoundrels! Seem to have many thousand millions, off-the-books in property and investments. Pay nary a thing!

    • Re:Damn (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rainmouse (1784278) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:12AM (#36459404)

      Damn and I thought Skynet was bad, or even the Matrix but tax collecting robots?

      They are probably more concept than substance. A bundle of gobshyte to scare people into declaring their earnings from auction sites and freelancing.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      This is an announcement about an idea - which means it's a long way from being reality.

      There is no way this is about catching the obvious tax cheats - those who live in a great big house with a stonking great mortgage yet have an income of £20,000 per year. We already have perfectly capable tax inspectors who can deal with that. I reckon the government has decided that lots of people are providing small supplements to their income through ebay or other classified ads and are staying under the radar be

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        You are reading too much into their motives.

        Software vendor comes to tax office with fantastic new product that can detect tax cheats online. Bosses see a way to generate some good statistics that show they are fighting tax avoidance. Press release is drafted in seconds flat.

        They can't do much about the big tax cheats because they use loopholes and accountants to avoid tax legally. On the other hand the housewife who makes rag dolls and sells them on eBay for a bit of holiday money is technically breaking t

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        In any case, the data is out there to figure out whether or not someone is running a lucrative business on the side - very likely with reasonable accuracy (data protection issues notwithstanding).

        With access only to public web pages, how, exactly, would a web bot be able to tell that "jimicus" (for example) on eBay was somebody who wasn't paying taxes on the eBay income?

        On eBay at least, unless you buy something from a seller, you don't get any information they don't want to tell you, so it would be very hard to connect a somewhat random username to a real person. Even if you did that, then you have to prove that person is keeping the money for themselves, since they could be selling for other peop

    • Re:Damn (Score:4, Funny)

      by Compaqt (1758360) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @08:34AM (#36461964) Homepage

      We've got a runner!

  • If the government in the UK is anything like ours in the US they're just a bunch of shameful crooks baselessly wasting money to further their own agenda while completely ignoring their citizens.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...I thought that was pretty much the job description of a government?

    • by blue trane (110704) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @12:05AM (#36459076) Homepage Journal

      The idea that govt can only spend what it takes in is an obsolete feudal myth, disproved by the fact that the USA has had a deficit for almost every year of its existence (since Alexander Hamilton's doctrine of Assumption assumed the states' war debts). Japan's 200% debt-to-gdp ratio and a currency they consider too strong is another counterexample. The real question is why do banks get to have an exclusive right to create money and automatically attach debt to it?

      "Give me control of a nation's money supply, and I care not who makes its laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        I feel like pulling a "Good Will Hunting" moment on you...
        but I wont.... I wont.
      • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @12:25AM (#36459152)

        the USA has had a deficit for almost every year of its existence

        That's not only completely false, it would be misleading even if it were completely true. There have been several dozen years during which the debt was paid down at least slightly, and many others in which the increase in GDP far outweighed the increase in the debt. On that last point, I'm not saying anyone should ever count on growing their way out of debt (as a few of the more delusional Republican potential candidates, especially Pawlenty, seem to advocate today), but it's perfectly reasonable for a fiscally stable government to borrow some money in periods of preexisting economic growth, and of course there are times when you can cause economic growth by spending borrowed money in the right places.

        So in a word, no. The US government has not spent substantially more than it took in throughout most of it's history, or when it did economic growth or fiscal responsibility closed the gap in following years. The only times we've had truly massive debt spikes were major wars, and the last thirty years of total irresponsibility. And that irresponsibility caught up with us about five years ago, truth be told. Most politicians are barely edging their way around to admitting the possible existence of a problem right now, but this crap reached crisis levels a while ago.

        No government can spend more than it takes in for any impressively long time, and it certainly isn't the regular order of things.

        • by Cyberllama (113628) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @03:48AM (#36460118)

          It wasn't really until Reagan that the National Debt took on a life of its own. It was tiny enough in the past that it was never really an issue, but Reagan, for better or for worse, decided to win the Cold War by spending so much the Russian government wouldn't be able to feed its citizens if it tried to keep up. The military industrial complex being what it is, we've never really drawn back from that unreasonably high level of spending on our military. Meanwhile, it's supporters engage in all manner of frantic arm waving to try to distract the public's attention towards lesser costs like money for the arts, NASA, social welfare programs, and health care initiatives. Never mind that the positive externalities of these programs more than justify the costs--they make easy targets to a public that wouldn't understand the notion of a cost-benefit analysis unless Garth Brooks wrote a song about it.

          While I appreciate that some so-called "Libertarians" see past this and want to cut military funding to the same degree they want to cut everything else, I find that too often they have a naive sort of blind faith in the free market and a weak understanding of the game theory underpinnings of modern political science. Most government spending is worthwhile in the sense that it generates more benefit to the public than it costs, the cost per person is low, and that it would be unaffordable without the pooled collective spending power of an entire nation (that is to say, the fixed costs are such that the unit cost can only be reasonable with a full buy-in from the entire tax-paying public).

          In short, you are correct that government spending is simply too high to sustain long term--but not by such a large margin as you may think. The current tax rates are fine--even those under Clinton (which only were higher for those making far more money than myself and likely you as well) were not too burdensome for industry. Despite the protestations of some libertarians, Atlas Shrugged, if it could happen, would never happen at our current modest tax rates. I think we could easily work our way to a surplus through Military cuts alone, though I can't be bothered to go look up the exact numbers--and to make our spending completely sustainable, all we need is a $1 dollar surplus.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Pope (17780)
            Reagan was first, and this has been SOP for every Neo-Conservative since: borrow and spend, let the next guy in office sort it out. Personally, I don't like the term "Neo-Conservative" since it muddies the waters and makes people think that these idiots are even remotely conservative. I prefer to call them "fascists."
          • by geekoid (135745)

            haha, by the time Reagan got into office, the USSR was pretty much dead.

            Reagan used it to increase military spends and raise taxes.

          • I think we could easily work our way to a surplus through Military cuts alone, though I can't be bothered to go look up the exact numbers-

            Wow, this is a problem. Why would you be bothered to make such an assertion without even doing a basic wikipedia search? Smart people like you who draw conclusions without looking at data are why people push stupid ideas. A quick look at this graph [wikipedia.org] will quickly show that military spending is not the only problem. Also note that a large portion of military spending is in pensions, and thus can't be easily cut even if you wanted to.

        • by fnj (64210) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @05:06AM (#36460530)

          So let me get this straight. The statement you are contesting says "the USA has had a deficit for almost every year of its existence." Your reference to "misleading" aside, you say the statement is "completely" false. Well, it is false for any reasonable definition of "almost every", but suppose it had said "a majority of the years" instead of "almost every year." Then it would be true, wouldn't it? And it would certainly be true for "almost every" when restricted to the range from 1960 through 2011, with covers the entire lifetimes of a majority of slashdot readers. Anyway, the simple fact is that, while significant deficits have been run in the past to cover the War of 1812, Civil War, WW I, Great Depression, and WW II, since 1970 we have had a huge run of deficits incurred without any such excuse, simply to cover normal operations.

          As for the rest, let's leave tweedledee Democrat and tweedledum Republican out of it, shall we? Both have been approximately equally destructive and craven in the way they will not face reality.

          There is no need to be vague or uncertain with the facts; the information is readily available right here [usgovernmentspending.com]. Here's the summary one can make of that data:

          Longest run of DEFICIT years: 28 (1970-1997), integrating to 81.91% GDP
          Longest run of surplus years: 18 (1875-1892), integrating to 72.30% GDP
          Do you see a trend in terms of timeline?

          First year of DEFICIT >10% GDP when not fully mobilized for an existential war: 2009. Didn't happen in the Great Depression, or at any other time since the founding of the Republic. We're going to duplicate that feat again this very year.

          Integrated value of (DEFICITS as %GDP) since the founding: 301.69
          Integrated value of (surpluses as %GDP) since the founding : 40.52

          Years of DEFICIT since the founding: 117
          Years of surplus since the founding: 104

          Years of DEFICIT since 1960: 46
          Years of surplus since 1960: 6 (SIX) (1 Bush 2, 3 Clinton, 1 Nixon, 1 Eisenhower)

          Decades of net DEFICIT since the founding: 13
          Decades of net surplus since the founding: 8

          Decades of net DEFICIT since 1960: ALL OF THEM!!!

          Decades of >10% integrated value of (DEFICIT as %GDP): 8
          Decades of >10% integrated value of (surplus as %GDP): 0 (ZERO)

          In the following tables all DEFICIT values are expressed as positive numbers and surpluses as negative numbers.

          NOTE: I couldn't include the tables because slashdot has a STUPID AS SHIT lameass lines-too-short filter. I'll see if there's some way to put them in my profile.

      • Well, yeah, nobody's saying a government can't spend more than it takes in - that is obviously false. What they're asking is, is it sustainable behaviour? Just like a family living on credit can spend far more than it takes in - until it's interest repayments start outpacing it's total income. From what I know, the cost of servicing the US debts has long since exceeded the amount garnered from taxing the income of its citizens, and its only getting worse.

        • by dakameleon (1126377) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:01AM (#36459336)

          From what I know, the cost of servicing the US debts has long since exceeded the amount garnered from taxing the income of its citizens, and its only getting worse.

          Wrong. Total revenues for fiscal 2012 are of the order of $2.6 trillion, total budgeted expenditure is $3.7 trillion, leaving a deficit of $1.1 trillion (figures from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]). Interest on debt for 2012 is budgeted at $474 billion. It's a sad fact to be spending close to a fifth of income on interest repayments, but then I can imagine there's more than a few families out there shelling out a lot more on repayments for mortgages.

        • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:02AM (#36459344)

          What you "know" is incorrect. The interest we pay on the national debt is $251B. The total revenue from income taxes is $1121B. And that doesn't count other taxes, such as corporate or excise taxes. If you tally up all of the United States revenues (excluding Social Security taxes), you get $1633B, more than six and a half times the debt interest.

          Additionally, the long term trend (average over the previous decade) is that the debt is for the interest payments to grow at half the rate at which revenues are growing.

          There's a lot of fear mongering going on about the American economy. It's very persuasive, but most of it is based on lies. We should absolutely reduce spending. We should also raise revenues. Repealing the Bush tax cuts, trimming back on military spending, removing the tax cap for Social Security, and applying some form of means testing to SS & Medicare are all reasonable approaches. Just don't find yourself falling for the FUD that we need to privatize everything right away or go bankrupt, because it's simply not the case.

          Source [wallstats.com]

          • by Malc (1751)

            Is that debt interest just interest payments on the debt, or debt repayments, including interest?

            Can you say that 15% of the money that the government takes from you goes just on debt interest? If so, that seems like good value for money.

      • (1) Debt != Deficit. Carrying debt is not an issue - old loans get paid but new ones also get made, all based on the goodwill of the American Government being able to honour its debts at some point in the future.

        (2) Most of Japan's creditors are in fact Japanese institutions and citizens - the government owes its own people, and they're obviously still willing to lend it money.

        (3) Where do banks have an exclusive right to "create" money? Or are you attacking the principle of fractional reserve banking that'

      • Be careful, you sound like someone who gets their information from a propaganda gold-selling website. Japan has a high debt-to-gdp ratio, but have you ever stopped to ask why they are the exception, why they have survived when many other countries (like Argentina) have hit economic collapse? Despite their high debt, they only have 51% of GDP as external debt. Other reasons, but I'll let you figure them out.

        And come on, this quote?

        "Give me control of a nation's money supply, and I care not who makes its laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

        He's was a banker, of course he had an over-inflated sense of his own self-i

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "We the people ... " says enough about "our" government. If you think you're not part of your governance, then revolution is appropriate. Problem is, most people are more scared to be "on their own" than under the care and watchful eye of Big Brother. Just look at the Tits, Scrotum and Ass feeldowns at the Airports. If you REALLY want a change in governance then SPEAK UP LOUDLY about everything you don't like, and persuade people to your cause. Yes, there are too many sheeple voting, women voting for the "c

    • by dadioflex (854298)
      Well, I think Cameron really wants to sort the UK's finances out but he may not be doing exactly the right thing - it's all about delaying the inevitable financial meltdown a la Argentina but it's going to happen eventually. We don't exactly have the US corporate-owned system but it's not far off however we have a fairly free press and television still and there isn't nearly as much partisan commentary (on TV at least) so it evens out.

      My real problem with the UK Government using IT to turn up tax cheats
      • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

        The thing is you don't need a "robot" to do it. You just need to ask - by which I mean introduce or use existing legislation to force - eBay to supply details of all UK registered sellers.

    • > If the government in the UK is anything like ours in the US they're just a bunch of shameful crooks baselessly wasting money to further their own agenda while completely ignoring their citizens.

      Our government in the US is huge. There are crooks and there are crooks, and there are also good people of varying degree. Some spend their lives in public service because they like helping people. Have you ever met a defense attorney good enough to get a much better job, for example?

      There are also a lot of f

      • by geekoid (135745)

        no, there are some crooks.
        Not a lot. I mean, when the media jumps all over a politician because he took a picture of his penis in he underwear, there really is that much going on.

    • Because governments all work on the delusion that everything belongs to them and that they're being kind by letting you possess some money or non-monetary objects.
    • For as long as the general public accepts politicians describing tax cuts as money that is lost, they will continue to believe that this is money they are owed.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      except the US government isn't like that. But hey, lets not let facts get in your way.

      By all objective measurements, the US government has very little waste.

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @12:03AM (#36459056)
    This reminds me of the US Senator who declared the necessity of an Internet sales tax on the grounds that people were "cheating the government" by not remitting tax voluntarily on their online purchases. This program seems to come from the same sentiments, and thus I feel towards it as I did towards that Senator: first, the government is not a legitimate entity unto itself. I can't cheat the government, I can only cheat my fellow citizens and myself out of some worthy use of those potential tax dollars. Change your attitude before you start bitching about what people do and don't pay. Second, between better handling the multiple trillions of dollars you already manage in a year and hounding the public for yet another thirty billion you feel you're owed in internet sales taxes, you seriously choose the thirty billion? Third, collecting money at retail is already the most regressive and indirect way of taxing the economy to run the government. You should be abolishing the sales tax entirely and making a more sensible personal and corporate income tax structure, not worrying about the fraction of the sales tax people do not pay.

    Bottom line, systems like this are missing the forest in favor of getting self righteous and nit picky about the trees.
    • by mug funky (910186) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @12:20AM (#36459128)

      actually, i think it's targeting businesses who trade solely within the UK and are not paying their taxes because they use the internet to remove the paper trail.

      in which case, i say go for it, UK govt. just don't think it entitles you to collect tax on transactions with an overseas component, or individuals who trade online casually. apply the same controls and exemptions that are applied with irl trading.

      • Well, the article seems to say otherwise. It talks about tracking down not just businesses, but handymen, tutors, individual online buyers, and others via comparing their internet purchases and other financial information against their 'legitimate' income. I only addressed the sales tax part that the summary talked about, but in fact the system does specifically target individuals and it does so for even more than sales taxes.
        • by mug funky (910186)

          bah! in that case it's more nanny state bullshit.

          people will just do it over email again.

        • by hoggoth (414195)

          Yes, because people tutoring some kids on the side are the real criminals in our financial system. Not the bankers who nearly destroyed the global economy with their greed. Go get those tutors and handymen! We can't allow corruption at any level.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            "Yes, because people tutoring some kids on the side are the real criminals in our financial system. "
            Wow, nice emotional logical fallacy. Why don't you Just say 'think of the children!'?

            Tax dodgers ARE real criminals. Regardless of how they got the money.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        Yes, it is exactly the same as the tax inspectors who look through classified ads in local newspapers for traders who haven't registered to pay tax.

        If you are using ebay to get rid of unwanted stuff, you are covered by the chattels exemption, the wasting assets exemption, or by the fact that you are selling the stuff for less than what you paid for it.

    • by Malc (1751)

      You should be abolishing the sales tax entirely and making a more sensible personal and corporate income tax structure, not worrying about the fraction of the sales tax people do not pay.

      Oh you're one of those are you? I'd rather pay more in consumption taxes and less on my income and savings. Income taxes are already high enough, making it harder than necessary to save and plan or prepare for my future.

      • by fnj (64210)

        I'm with you on that. I want ONLY a consumption tax, provided there is an annual prebate for reasonable amounts of food, clothing, housing. It has the nice feature that interest on indebtedness automatically gets exempted by definition (it's not consumption). And interest on savings doesn't enter into it at all, any more than income. I can control my elective spending; I don't have the option of controlling my income because I need almost all of it for those essentials, including interest on indebtednes

        • by Muad'Dave (255648)

          I agree for the most part, except that the word 'reasonable' leaves your plan open to too much interpretation, IMHO. Who gets to decide what food items are taxed and which are not? What differentiates Spam (tm) from caviar in your example?

          I'd rather see the following categories of tax free stuff:
          1) Food that is sold raw and unprocessed. Raw meat, veggies, flour, milk, etc are tax free. The sort of stuff your parents/grandparents called 'staples'. Cooked foods, things in cans (processed foods), etc are taxed

    • In the UK if you run a "trade" then you are required to submit accounts to HMRC and, if necessary, pay tax on any profit.

      For ebayers, this would be people who buy stuff with the intention of reselling it. It does not apply to people who are just having a clearing out.

      For small traders the "accounts" can comprise of basically a few lines - income, expenditure, profit. HMRC can ask for a more detailed breakdown (which is why you're required to keep records for seven years - might be three for small traders) b

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Some people seem to forget that there's a distinct cultural and social difference between the US(along with Canada) and most of Europe. The main being that in Europe the government isn't an agent of the people.

    • by Mantrid42 (972953)

      I can't cheat the government, I can only cheat my fellow citizens and myself out of some worthy use of those potential tax dollars. Change your attitude before you start bitching about what people do and don't pay.

      Setting aside purchases through services like iTunes and Steam, are the goods you buy online delivered via taxpayer funded public roads?

    • by jandersen (462034)

      ... first, the government is not a legitimate entity unto itself.

      I think possiby the word you are looking for is "legal entity" - to quote Wikipedia:

      The term legal entity is used:

      * to refer to a juristic person, an artificial entity that the law treats for some purposes as if it were a person, such as an incorporated organization.

      * as a general term to describe all entities recognized by the law, including both juristic and natural persons.

      As far as I can see, a government IS a "legal entity" - you can take the government to court, can't you?

      I can't cheat the government, ...

      And thus you can, in fact, cheat the government.

      I can only cheat my fellow citizens and myself out of some worthy use of those potential tax dollars

      So that's OK then? If anything, I think it is worse to cheat your fellow citizens, since most individuals have less money than the government.

      ... you seriously choose the thirty billion?

      "Only thirty billion"? Is that you, Mr Gates, Sir?

      ... making a more sensible personal and corporate income tax structure ...

      What? Make rich people and corporations actually pay taxes? How realistic is that

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @12:07AM (#36459088) Journal
    I pretty much sell everything at a loss...

    I don't see where eBay reports the "cost of goods"... and don't forget the 9% or eBay fee... or 3.x% for paypal...
    • by astrotek (132325)

      In the USA, the IRS is going to require credit card processors to report what they pay businesses. It's very easy to spot a business that doesn't report or under reports their cash transactions. It was easy to cheat on but when the average business in the sector makes 20% of their revenue from cash and a 5% profit on their revenue they stand out like a sore thumb if they get greedy.

      I'd imagine that the British are doing the same thing. They are just looking for people that fall outside the a standard deviat

  • TFA/S

    The decision to target cyberspace to hunt down those evading tax comes as HMRC continues its campaign to recover around £7 billion lost to the Treasury each year.

    How do they know how much is "lost"? Is it "MAFIAA accounting - type" again? Or is it, somehow, a "corporate mission" in disguise for the "target-collection for the next FY. Guys, this is how much we need!"? Or what? .

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 16, 2011 @12:20AM (#36459136)
      1) Gov: "Hmm, I see 1000 people a day picking their nose in the park - let's charge a $100 fine for picking your nose in public." That will raise $100,000!
      2) Gov: Let's allocate the anticipated $100,000 nose picking fee to "disadvantaged children of bankers who need a free needle exchange so they stay high and don't nuke the gay whales"
      3) Reality: people stop picking their nose in the park.
      4) Gov: Crap - the budget is $100,000 short! let's get the taxpayers to agree to a hike, or we cut police and fire fighter jobs!
    • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @12:53AM (#36459298)

      It's an estimate based upon how much money the suspect is being underreported or unreported and the tax which would be applied if it were properly reported. It's something that most if not all government's do, it's a way of keeping an eye on whether or not they need more enforcement or audits.

      It's difficult to really know since no government ever gets 100% of what they should and the tax is by definition not collected.

      MAFIAA accounting OTOH is overtly fraudulent and is made solely so that they can cry poor whenever they need more help enforcing their rights. The HMRC in this case is at least in theory trying to be a bit more even handed about it. I know in the US there are similar figures estimating how much more money the government is theoretically entitled to but can't for whatever reason collect.

      • by Thelasko (1196535)

        MAFIAA accounting OTOH is overtly fraudulent and is made solely so that they can cry poor whenever they need more help enforcing their rights.

        Mafia GAAP [wikipedia.org] (also applys to MAFIAA GAAP) requires three sets of books.
        Book 1: Says you are making money so the bank will give you a loan.
        Book 2: Says you are losing money so you don't have to pay taxes.
        Book 3: The real book so you know how much money you have.

  • First they came for Taxes, then they will come for your Death! Muahahahahaha!

  • By comparison, Orwell was an optimist, and the Terminator was much too charming. These really make Hell pointless.
  • I mean surely the ebay seller accounts will invariably be traced to the correct individuals, right?
    • Actually, it doesn't really matter. If they think you're an ebay trader then they might ask you to submit a tax return. If you're not an ebay trader then you just don't mention it. They will probably then decide to do an audit (because they think you have undeclared income) and ask to see things like bank account statements. And that will be it.

      It could be a bit complicated if you've just been selling off some old junk on ebay and then you'll have to justify the payments coming in. But selling a mobile phon

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:35AM (#36459534) Journal

    Greece is in trouble AND taking the EU with it because among its many faults one thing it doesn't have is an effective tax system. Tax evasion is rive. Now, it is possible to run a state with a minimal tax collection but then the citizens NEED to pay for everything out of there own pocket. Greece also has very big welfare state and countless state projects with lots of kickbacks. The money has to come from somewhere.

    Basically, tax evasion is not something harmless and cute, it makes those who pay taxes legit pay for the income of others. And gosh, don't it seem the case that those who evade taxes also benefit the most from state protection? Like politicians living on the state still cheating on it? People living in council funded housing? Employing minimum wage slaves who need their income supplemented by the state because working a full job doesn't pay enough?

    Just take a look at Greece to see what happens if the state becomes totally ineffective in collecting taxes. And do you think any greek is going "oh well, we did it ourselves, we will have to sort it out ourselves?" No... every single last one is demanding the rest of the world bail it out after having spend decades already on a money drip.

    Tax evasion? We should do it old style. Tax is the price for the privilege of living in a country, don't want to pay? Then the privilege is revoked. I at least am willing to pay the extra tax for the bullet of revocing.

    • The problem is that there are two types of tax evasion - the corporate tax evasion and the "black market" amongst just about everyone else.

      It's the corporate tax evasion that is by far the biggest sum of money and has happened because our governments have been too lenient on corporations. When our infrastructure was based around communities with small local companies and traders, around 40% of the money that was spent with them was recycled back into the local community. (e.g. the grocer would have his van

    • by darknb (1193867)
      Thats a whole lot of overblown rhetoric SFC. Tax evasion did not cause the fall of Greece. Tax evasion isn't a cause, like piracy its an effect. Piracy effects software yet it never kills software. In fact in the case of really good software it actually serves as an amplifying effect. Piracy crushes your competition for you: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technology/article2098235.ece (remember Gates trip to Romania). In the same way tax evasion thrives in the great economic
    • by pla (258480)
      Your argument for more aggressive taxation (and enforcement thereof) already includes a much easier solution:

      The problem: "Greece also has very big welfare state and countless state projects with lots of kickbacks. The money has to come from somewhere."

      And the solution: "Now, it is possible to run a state with a minimal tax collection but then the citizens NEED to pay for everything out of there own pocket."


      Why screw around with policing something when you can make the whole issue moot? We won't
  • The UK Revenue come up with these kind of big statements now and again but I think they will make more money out of the FUD factor than from the actual bots - that is if they can get a working system. Without information from ISPs etc it will be difficult to tie most eBay identities to an actual tax payer, the amount of information to trawl and reconcile will be enormous and the SNR very high.

  • An effort should be made also to perfect the system of spending public money. Not only collecting.

    Squandering of public money, corruption, etc. make people unwilling to give away the hard earned money for a waste.

  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@davidg e r a r d . co.uk> on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:09AM (#36459710) Homepage

    Never mind the six billion quid HMRC let Vodafone off [guardian.co.uk] for free. You can now measure cuts to services in percentages of a Vodafone.

    Or George Osborne's personal tax evasion [channel4.com].

    No, it's all the eBay traders. Yes, they must be the problem.

    • THE OSBOURNES, Bog Society, Sunday (NTN) — A survey by fraud investigators has revealed the top ten worst excuses [newstechnica.com] used by the evil benefit cheats depriving you, yes you, of valuable pennies you could have put toward your next pint.

      • * "We didn't realise the NHS needed that six billion quid, we just had to make a few million phone calls."
      • * "Don't tell me you give a shit about the tax your supermarket pays if you get your milk 2p cheaper."
      • * "It was a necessary and unavoidable cost of doing business to r
    • by abigsmurf (919188) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @05:17AM (#36460590)
      There's a telling paragraph in that article:

      HMRC's press office dismisses the £6bn tax write-off as an "urban myth". But the Eye's calculations on the lost income are based on publicly available accounts which detail the vast wealth of Vodafone's Luxembourg subsidiary. They add in the lost income that comes from the Revenue allowing Vodafone to continue with other tax-reducing wheezes. The Revenue, by contrast, offers questioners nothing beyond bluster and unsubstantiated assertion.

      Translation: the headline £6bn figure is only partially made up of the money HMRC said they hadn't been paid and they got that money in court. The rest of the money wasn't paid because they'd used legal means to pay less tax.

      There's a difference between that and just not paying taxes as required by the law.

  • Hmmm, so they'll use the tools of a well known tax avoider to go after other people avoiding their fair share of taxes. Nice...

  • This just sounds like another game where they're focussing on the little guys whilst ignoring the big tax avoiders.

    Like this guy, who's a member of the House of Lords (comparable to the Senate, except half of the members get inn through birthright): http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/mar/04/lord-ashcroft-vat-conservative-polls [guardian.co.uk]

    • by drunkahol (143049)

      Correction. None of the Lords get in by birthright. There are 88 hereditary peers currently from the total of 789 members of the House of Lords. Of the 88 hereditary peers, 15 are elected by the whole house (700 of whom are not hereditary remember). The rest are allocated to political parties to match the ratios of non-hereditary peers.

      So - a pretty piss poor description of the House of Lords from you.

      It also doesn't take much investigation (or even reading of the newspapers) to find that tax evasion is

  • by squizzar (1031726) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @04:55AM (#36460476)

    And meanwhile Dave Hartnett is letting multinational companies get away with tax fraud on an enormous scale. Vodafone, who actually saved the money for the interest on the tax bill they knew they should pay, have paid none of it. They even declared the amount 'saved' as a windfall profit. Apparently HMRC got no less than every penny they could from Vodafone. http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&issue=1289 [private-eye.co.uk]

    They're just the biggest one. There are several cases where Hartnett, who doesn't seem to know a lot about tax, has made agreements with companies to settle tax bills against the guidance, or without the knowledge, of the actual tax experts who work for him. £0.95 Billion from Vodafone was sitting there to be taken - because they'd actually been reasonably honest in a sense - and somehow that got ignored. But it's OK, we'll make up the difference by pestering people on ebay over the amount of money they made on some junk they bought from ebay.

    Anyone want to wager that the tax recovered probably doesn't cover the cost of landfill and environmental disposal for most of the crap that will get binned rather than sold on ebay?

  • The more you tax, the less you get. Apparently all the US government gets to have is 18%. No matter what the official tax rates are. I wonder what the figure is for the UK, but there has to be some equilibrium point where people who are already finding ways to evade tax will simply get even more creative. What does happen, however, is that law becomes more oppressive.
  • Don't kid yourself. HMRC are lazy. Lazy. Even when you offer to pay your tax they still won't let you. Yes, that's right, a TAX OFFICE THAT REFUSES TO ACCEPT TAX.

    Not the brightest bunnies in the world.

    This is a non-story. Or pure fantasy. Or both.

  • Perhaps more people would pay taxes for such things if the administrative load was less ridiculous.
    Why spend several hours filling out forms just so you can pay a few bucks tax because you sold some second hand crap?

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

Working...