By Lyndsey Hall
Social media is proving to be one of the revenue’s key sources of information for catching tax cheats, both in the UK and abroad.
According to an article on Accounting Web, Sweden’s version of HMRC recently caught out a tax defaulter using his LinkedIn profile. An anonymous tip off alerted the Swedish revenue to work that the man had done as far back as 2004 for several companies, including a biomass firm based in the British Virgin Isles, that he had failed to declare to the tax man, but had listed as employment on his profile on the professional social media site. The financial crimes unit found undeclared earnings in both his and his wife’s bank accounts, and even discovered that the company had paid for a Porsche 996 Turbo. The result was a $750,000 (£494,000) fine, $150,000 for each year of unpaid tax since 2008.
Another recent article revealed that the Lithuanian tax authorities have started to use Google Maps Street View to catch tax defaulters, searching for construction work and property sales that could hint at hidden wealth. Using the online tool, the Lithuanian revenue have already identified over a hundred homeowners and thirty construction companies as suspected tax defaulters.
The article also revealed that the American IRS already use taxpayers’ Facebook and Twitter profiles to cross-reference information that has been submitted in their tax returns. Here in the UK, HMRC have been trawling websites like Ebay and Gumtree for undeclared sales.
With HMRC and tax authorities worldwide increasingly using technology and the internet to catch tax evaders, it is more important than ever to make sure that your tax affairs are in order and make sure that you don’t get caught out. If you need any help or advice regarding any aspect of your personal or business finances, please let us know in the Comments, or get in touch by phone or email, and our experienced staff will be happy to assist you.