HMRC uses Google to home in on assets
Revenue inspectors are increasingly turning to Google Street View as a monitoring tool to catch suspected tax evaders, according to UHY Hacker Young.
The top 20 accounting firm said, based on recent cases, that HMRC was using Google to try to prove people have undeclared income. Street View provides a kerbside view of homes and businesses, giving inspectors a quick way to assess a person’s lifestyle and see whether it matches declared income.
In one case, the firm revealed Street View was being used to provide clues as to whether a family was using a private school, thanks to the practice of advertising school fêtes on signs in parents’ gardens.
Roy Maugham, UHY Hacker Young tax partner, said: “HMRC believe there’s a big discrepancy between what people are earning and what they are declaring, which is driving a massive push to recoup some of the loss.
“They are using every possible bit of information that the internet is making available, and Google Street View is being seized on as a quick and cheap alternative to visiting someone’s home,” he said.
Officials are also looking for home improvements or expensive cars parked in the driveway as clues to earning levels.
An HMRC spokesperson told AccountingWEB...