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17 February 2023

Keeping your Side Hustle Safe

Q: Due to the ongoing cost of living crisis I have started to sell some garden products on Amazon and eBay. I have received a letter a HMRC asking about sales on online marketplaces. What do I need to do? 

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have started to send letters to some people who earn money from making sales on online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and other digital platforms or online marketplaces.

The letters are sent to people who HMRC think earn income by selling goods or services through online marketplaces. We understand that HMRC have received third-party information that they have used to identify individuals who may not have told HMRC about some or all of their income from online marketplaces. This means that those who receive these letters from HMRC may owe tax. The letters also include a certificate of tax position, which HMRC ask the individuals to complete and return to them. The aim of the letters is to encourage people who sell goods or services through online marketplaces to bring their tax position up to date.

If you regularly sell goods or services through an online marketplace HMRC might consider that you are ‘trading’ and, depending on the amount of money you make, you might need to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions on your profits.

When you receive a letter from HMRC 

If you have received such a letter it is important to:

  1. Respond to HMRC by the date stated on the letter (usually within 30 days of the date HMRC issued the letter), even if you do not have any income to tell them about. HMRC have information that shows you may have earned money from selling goods and/or services through an online marketplace, such as Amazon or eBay. They have obtained information from third parties and carried out risk assessments. The information and risk assessment show you may not have told HMRC about all of your income. This means that your tax position may be wrong or that you may not have paid enough tax.
  2. Check your previous tax returns to ensure that they are complete and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief. In particular, you should check that you have included all the income you have earned from trading through online marketplaces and deducted all the allowable expenses you have incurred. You might be able to make use of the £1,000 trading and miscellaneous allowance if your gross income from trading through online marketplaces is less than £1,000. This will depend on whether you have any other sources of self-employment, casual or miscellaneous income.

Undisclosed income information

If you need to tell HMRC about income that you have not disclosed to them, the letter tells you to use the online Digital Disclosure Facility or Disclosure Service to do this. You need a Government Gateway user ID and password to use the Digital Disclosure Facility. If you do not already have a user ID, you need to create one. You can do this by registering for HMRC online services.

If you check your tax returns and you are confident you do not have undisclosed income that you need to tell HMRC about, including the case where all of your undisclosed income (and any other trading and miscellaneous income that you have disclosed) is covered by the trading allowance, you should contact HMRC to let them know.

If you do not respond to HMRC’s letter they are likely to follow up. They will probably send you another letter in the first instance. If you fail to respond, HMRC may decide to open a compliance check into your tax return if you have submitted one. If you have not completed a tax return, they could issue a notice to file a tax return or issue an assessment.

Here to Help

The team at FPM are here to help with all your finance and tax queries. If you need any further advice or guidance please get in touch.

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Contact Feargal

Feargal McCormack / Managing Partner

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