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Nowhere to hide: why HMRC’s Connect system means keeping your tax affairs in order is more important than ever before

Recent reports have shown that HMRC’s sophisticated automated information system, Connect, is being used increasingly frequently to identify income and gains that have not been declared for tax purposes, and the amount of information that HMRC can access to check whether an individual or business is evading tax is growing all the time.

 

Experts at Whitley Stimpson, one of the largest independent accountancy practices in the area, are keen to warn people that attempting to hide their finances from HMRC is a more dangerous game than ever before – and looks set to become even more so.

 

Connect, which gathers information from a huge range of sources, including offshore authorities and the DVLA, has helped HM Revenue & Customs collect an extra £3bn in tax since it was first used in 2010. It is claimed some of these sources include online marketplaces such as eBay or Autotrader, banks and credit card companies, flight sales from airlines, Companies House records and the Land Registry.

 

Ian Parker, Director of Whitley Stimpson said: “Connect works by making it easier to see patterns, links and networks amongst the incredible amount of data arriving at HMRC every month. The software is now able to process greater volumes of information even more quickly, meaning it’s more vital than ever that individuals and businesses disclose sources of income.”

 

“Connect can help HMRC find irregularities between such things as bank interest, property income and other lifestyle indicators and tax liabilities. This means HMRC can then build a profile of people and businesses that look like they might be failing to pay the right amount of tax.”

 

After the extension last year of rules on international cooperation, Connect now has access to information across more than 100 countries. If it discovers any assets connected to you, HMRC may launch an inquiry – even when the assets are perfectly legitimate and comply with tax rules.

 

Ian continues, “With even more digital information available for Connect to analyse, especially with the introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD), an increase in the number and accuracy of tax inspections is expected. That means it’s more important than ever to manage your tax affairs wisely, and legally, than ever before.”

 

If you or your business have any questions about any tax matters, please contact Ian Parker, Director, on 01295 270200 or ianp@whitleystimpson.co.uk.