Snooping taxman celebrates windfall

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HMRC is spying on individuals’ social media accounts as part of its crackdown on the wealthy, a new investigation has claimed.

Insurance firm PFP reveals that the Revenue is using taxpayers’ Facebook and Twitter accounts to build up a more detailed picture of their lifestyle. The taxman will then launch an investigation in any case where a person’s boasting does not match their reported income.

Holiday snaps, online purchase records and information from local councils can also be used as evidence.

The new strategy has helped HMRC’s Finance Team rake in £39 million since its inception in September 2012. The department, set up to target wealthy fund managers and investment bankers, has also increased its number of investigations by a quarter over the past year.

According to PFP, the average number of cases went up from four per month in the first six month of the team’s existence to five per month in the past year.

The news comes as HMRC celebrates a triple victory against tax avoidance schemes, protecting over £260 million in revenue. All three rulings uphold earlier judgements in HMRC’s favour at the first-tier tribunal.

David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “The overwhelming majority of people pay the taxes they owe. These latest cases show that HMRC will effectively tackle those who try to get around their legal responsibilities. Users of avoidance schemes should think twice before trying to abuse tax reliefs to avoid paying their fair share of tax.”

Have your say

What do you think of the latest revelation? Will it make you think twice about what you post on social media? Do you think HMRC is right to monitor taxpayers in this way? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.