Post by Nick Goode, Head of Sage Online.
The campaign defined
“The e-marketplaces campaign is for people who are trading online through an online marketplace, sometimes referred to as an online auction or online market, to sell goods and services as a trade or as a business but aren’t paying the right amount of tax”. (HMRC)
Cracking down on online traders
The increase in people making a living through online trading is prompting HMRC to set out guidelines on who should or should not be paying tax. According to the Centre for Retail Research in Nottingham, “2011 online sales in the UK were £50.34 billion (€59.4 billion) or 12.0% of UK retail trade. In 2008, online was equivalent to only 8.6% of retail sales.”
HMRC are making it really clear that businesses trading online need to be managing their accounts and tax affairs or face penalties, just as with any business. How do you know if you have to pay tax or if you are not really an ecommerce business? What happens if you missed the deadline of 14th June 2012 to declare your income? This page is really helpful and provides the forms people need http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/campaigns/emarket.htm – note, there is another deadline on 14th September 2012.
HMRC are also saying that if you are selling a few pieces of your personal stuff online to generate a bit of cash, you don’t need to report that income (collective sigh of relief?). Beyond that the lines are less clear unless you are a full-on eshop.
Personally I have found plenty of canny items online, like a cage for fruit trees that a retired guy in a nearby town makes at a fraction of the price of equivalent items in traditional retail stores. I think we like to support the small business as well, no? Small business owners tend to want to focus on the thing they do versus worrying about accounts and tax. We loved the recent tweet about Sage One Accounts by @cabaretrouge to this very point:
Impressed with trial of @sageuk so far. Makes bookkeeping much simpler for non-finance people. Less time in the office & more time dancing!
If you need help with your accounts and tax affairs feel free to get in touch. Otherwise check out the HRMC pages and best of luck with your business. Your contribution to the future of our economy is much appreciated.