New rules that require sites to provide government with personal and financial information on online sellers come into effect this week, with first submissions to be made in January 2025
Popular platforms such as eBay and Airbnb are among those in scope of new rules that have come into effect requiring websites to provide government with personal and financial information on millions of citizens selling goods and services online.
From 1 January, online marketplaces and sales platforms are obliged to provide to HM Revenue and Customs with user data including names, addresses, and dates of birth, as well as bank account and National Insurance details and information on sales made through the platform in question.
Projections previously made in a policy paper indicate that government expects to receive such information on between two and five million individuals and businesses selling from and into the UK market.
“Customer experience for these sellers is expected to improve as they will receive a copy of the information that has been submitted to a tax authority,” the paper adds. “This should help them to declare the right income and may make complying with their tax obligations easier.”
HMRC has previously had the ability to request data from UK-based platforms. But the new regulations implemented across all countries that take part in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development mean that such data must now be provided proactively to national tax authorities – each of which can now, in turn, share information with one another in cases where a seller is providing goods to another country.
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In the UK, anyone earning more than £1,000 a year from selling goods online is required to complete an annual self-assessment process and pay the necessary income tax on their earnings. HMRC has indicated that the new measures will support such people in ensuring their tax affairs are in order, while enabling government to better crack down on deliberate avoidance.
“These new rules will support our work to help online sellers get their tax right first time. They will also help us detect any deliberate non-compliance, ensuring a level playing field for all taxpayers,” said an HMRC spokesperson.
The department’s guidance defines the companies in scope of the regulations as “any digital platform – for example a website or mobile phone app – that handles and enables the sale of goods and services from individuals and/or businesses to customers”. This includes retail, auction and second-hand sales platforms such as eBay and Vinted, as well as property let sites such as Airbnb and those – like Fiverr or Upwork – enabling freelance workers to offer their services.
“This measure is expected to have a significant impact on UK digital platform operators who will have to collect specific pieces of information about sellers, which some platforms will not already collect,” the guidance adds. “UK platforms will have to verify that information, collate and report it to enable the seller to be identified and matched with data HMRC holds, identify the residency of the seller and the jurisdiction in which a property is located. There will be one-off costs which will include familiarisation with the change and could also include updating their website or software to collect more information, updating their IT and training staff to provide information to tax authorities in XML schema format, training staff to implement the new information collection and verification processes, and communicating the changes to sellers using the platform.”
Initial estimates are that the measure will cost HMRC £36.7m to deliver, including implementation costs and salaries for 24 full-time equivalent civil servants dedicated to supporting the new data-collecting regime.