For any general inquiries, please fill in the following contact form:

Our websites never use cookies or other technologies such as pixel tags and web beacons. We only retain personal information when the contact section of our websites is filled. To proceed and get in touch with us through this format please read our Terms & Conditions, updated to be in line with the provisions of the GDPR, and tick this box to consent in us retaining the above information for contacting purposes only.


HMRC accused of ignoring online VAT fraud worth £1.2bn a year

HMRC accused of ignoring online VAT fraud worth £1.2bn a year

Campaigners say no rogue traders have been prosecuted for selling wares on Amazon and eBay without VAT.

HM Revenue & Customs has been accused of being soft on billions of pounds of VAT fraud committed by rogue traders using online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.

The accusation comes after a senior HMRC official said last week that his department had never seized goods from traders suspected of being part of a £1.2bn-a-year VAT fraud via Amazon’s marketplace and other online sites.

The scam involves foreign companies warehousing products in the UK and selling them without charging VAT via internet marketplaces.

Legitimate traders claim the scam gives the fraudsters an unfair advantage.

Richard Allen, the founder of Retailers Against VAT Abuse Schemes (RAVAS), said: “HMRC was handed a dossier containing the names and details of hundreds of fraudsters three years ago. 

“Yet in that entire period, despite serious and criminal fraud taking place by traders using Amazon warehouses, HMRC has not made a single prosecution or seized goods when it has identified rogue operators.

“When measured against the actions of other jurisdictions such as Germany – who have taken enforcement action – or even simple common sense, HMRC’s behaviour can be seen as nothing other than going lenient on Amazon rogue traders.”

The chancellor took measures last year to tighten up 2016 legislation designed to force companies such as Amazon and eBay to police their own site for VAT fraudsters. Websites are now jointly liable for ensuring companies selling goods to UK consumers via their websites are paying the correct VAT.

But last week, during a public accounts committee hearing, the chair, Meg Hillier MP, said to HMRC’s deputy chief executive, Jim Harra: “According to Amazon … they said ‘to our knowledge HMRC has never issued a notice to Amazon to seize the third-party goods belonging to a seller in respect of whom they have issued a joint and several liability notice.’”

Harra told the committee: “We don’t think that as our powers currently stand it’s a practical way of us making any meaningful difference here but it’s definitely an area we want to look at to see if we can use it.”

HMRC “fully refutes” RAVAS’s claim it has been soft on the fraud and said that it had had 27,550 applications to register for VAT from overseas online retail businesses since its measures on joint liability were introduced in 2016 and 2018.

HMRC added: “The UK has led the way in holding online marketplaces jointly liable for VAT evaded overseas and in the UK by being the first country to bring in new powers to hold them to account.”

Amazon and eBay have previously told the committee that they take VAT fraud seriously.



Furious Theresa May has blazing row with EU's Tusk and rounds on 'bullying ...

Furious Theresa May has blazing row with EU's Tusk and rounds on 'bullying leaders who hung her out to dry' over Chequers plan - as snubbed PM edges closer to walking away without a deal
A visibly furious Theresa May rounded on EU leaders for hanging her our to dry yesterday as she battled to keep her Chequers Brexit plan ...

Apple pays disputed Irish tax bill

Apple pays disputed Irish tax bill
Apple has paid the Irish government €14.3bn (£12.7bn), money that the European Commission ruled the tech giant owed due to illegal tax ...

Danske bank chief resigns over €200bn money-laundering scandal

Danske bank chief resigns over €200bn money-laundering scandal
Thomas Borgen admits most of £180bn that passed through Estonian branch was fraudulent.The boss of Denmark’s biggest bank has resigned after...

Who's behind the blog

Who's behind the blog