Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/13/vat_robot/

Taxman recruits fricking tax-collecting robots

You have 20 seconds to....complete and return VAT form 101

By John Oates

Posted in Small Biz, 13th June 2011 13:46 GMT

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is unleashing an army of fricking robots to find VAT evaders and eBay traders.

The robots are the web-spider variety rather than an actual RoboTaxman.

But they will target "invisible tax evasion" by those trading on e-marketplaces and offering private tuition as well as tradesmen like plumbers and electricians.

HMRC said the 'bots will work with its Connect computer system to check various different databases like bank interest, property income and other lifestyle clues. So keep those holiday pictures off Flickr and Facebook, unless you don't mind the taxman knowing where you've been.

The software will look for unexplained discrepancies between what it finds online and what HMRC knows about you.

The Rev said it would be looking at people who offer teaching or coaching as a sideline to their main work as well as full-time coaches.

Similarly it is looking at people using e-marketplaces as traders without paying necessary tax, not those selling a few items on eBay.

HMRC's statement on web-robots is here.

The Rev is launching a summer campaign against those trading over the £73,000 threshold without registering for VAT. ®