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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.'"
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British Tax System Uses Web Robots To Find Cheats

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  • 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.

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:03AM (#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 blue trane (110704) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:05AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:17AM (#36459118)

    if the governments stuck to their few legitimate functions or providing truly public goods then it would cost about 90% less

    1. prevent foreign invasion
    2. punish those who engage in fraud, theft, or threaten or commit violence
    3. enforce property rights
    4. provide a non-violent method of resolving disputes

    anything else is politicians stealing from a group without favor to give to a group that has favor

    appropriate fortune:Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. There might be a law against it by that time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:20AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:27AM (#36459170)

    "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 "cute guy", young people voting for the "cool guy", poor people voting for the guy who is going to give them money and so on.

    We have the government we deserve.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @01:53AM (#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.

  • Re:Damn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rainmouse (1784278) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:12AM (#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 SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:35AM (#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.

  • by decora (1710862) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:43AM (#36459586) Journal

    bailing out the insurance companies

    foisting a ponzi-scheme fraud bank privitization scheme, complete with payed-for glowing papers written by bought-off US ivy league academics, on a small, defenseless nation (iceland) and then declaring them terrorists when they refuse to pay you protection money, as though you were some 3rd rate mafia knee-breaker

    providing a 'back office' for american companies like AIG to conduct unregulated business activites, like writing credit default swaps against CDO tranches of subprime mortgage securities. of course many experts in the industry call CDS 'gambling' and the CDO business a "ponzi scheme", but don't let that stop your regulators from ignoring what was happening.

    when your regulators are actually needed to bend the rules, and prevent a Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, which would toss the entire planet into chaos after it makes the Primary Reserve Fund money market fund lose money, freaking out just about everyone whose job it is to manage money, well, you take your financial regulators, and instead of helping the US prevent this, instead you act all of a sudden like you need to actually care about regulation.

    did i mention that the british taxpayers had to take over some of the british banks, pay their debts off? i.e. pay the armani wearing maserati driving hedge fund managers, bank executives, etc, who caused this CDO / CDS mess in the first place?

    but god forbid you sell stuff on ebay without reporting it properly.

  • by David Gerard (12369) <<slashdot> <at> <>> on Thursday June 16, 2011 @03:09AM (#36459710) Homepage

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

    Or George Osborne's personal tax evasion [].

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

  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @04:48AM (#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.

  • by bughunter (10093) <> on Thursday June 16, 2011 @06:20AM (#36460618) Journal

    anything else is politicians stealing from a group without favor to give to a group that has favor

    Sorry, but that's just your opinion, and a minority opinion in the grand history of the USA. Coincidentally, your opinion is also held by an over-represented minority with a disproportionate voice because they won't shut up, congregate on soap boxes, and shout down (or character assassinate) those who hold opposing views.

    These are facts: Since the United States rejected slavery and moved from an Agrarian economy to an Industrial one, the majority of its citizens (and I mean real people -- not wealthy businessmen hiding behind legal entities for the purpose of avoiding liability for white collar larceny, fraud and neglect -- but human beings), have consistently decided for most of its history that they also require a government that does more, e.g.: provides common universal social services such as education, healthcare, pensions, and mass transportation; maintains, manages and improves the commons, such as roads, ports, radio spectrum, and the environment; and most essentially puts checks and balances on the power of large, wealthy corporate persons to ensure that human beings aren't defrauded, neglected, poisoned, or robbed of their wealth or political influence and to prevent the tragedy of the commons -- something that those who have wanted to commit fraud, larceny and to pillage the commons have never been happy about at all.

    I don't need to provide a citation for these claims, they're obvious to anyone who paid attention in school, or who was born before the Reagan administration. That was about the time that very wealthy special interests finally were able to influence the political process enough to weaken the government's ability to do the last bit, above, while the public was distracted with bread and circuses and watergate/vietnam burnout.

    Now this is my opinion, and it's just as valid as yours: The idea that government has a role limited only to the four functions you list is fine in theory, but as soon as you try to make it work in practice, it reverts to a plutocracy -- or worse. So it's no coincidence that its plutocrats and plutocrat-wannabe's (and worse) are the ones who embrace this brand of libertarianism, and are pissed off that they haven't just been handed a license to pillage the commons, steal from the public, and generally be free to behave like sociopaths because they are superior to the hoi polloi. And now that they've had their way with our government for 25 years or so, the commons are being looted, polluted and denuded, the economy is in shambles, and we're well on our way to becoming a full-fledged plutocracy -- or worse.

    The claim that a government which doesn't protect the public from these sociopaths, and which makes public improvements accessible equally to all, is stealing from one group and giving to another that has favor is the epitome of ironic projection. Because the position that government should only soldier, police, convict and incarcerate is held mainly by people who wish to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a favored few -- themselves -- and would use the soldiers and police to maintain that status quo.

    But that's just my opinion, after fifty years of observation.

The less time planning, the more time programming.