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Direct sellers have just one week to settle tax bills

Press Release   •   Feb 21, 2013 10:44 GMT

People who sell directly to customers and who haven’t paid all the tax they owe have one week left to take part in an opportunity offered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to get their tax affairs in order, on the best terms available.

Direct sellers - sometimes called agents, consultants, representatives or distributors - must tell HMRC about the tax due, and make arrangements to pay, before 28 February 2013.

Direct selling involves selling directly to customers and taking “commission” on sales - without the need for a shop. It can entail demonstrating a product in a customer’s home or selling at a party. Some agents sell door to door, and many use catalogues.

Marian Wilson, head of HMRC Campaigns, said:

“If you are involved in direct selling and have not told HMRC about all of your income, you may not be paying the right amount of tax. The Direct Selling campaign is an opportunity for you to bring your tax affairs up to date.

“As a direct seller you are generally considered to be self-employed. This means that you are responsible for telling HMRC about what you earn and calculating and paying your own tax.

“If you owe tax and don't get in contact, do not assume that HMRC will not catch up with you soon.”

After the 28 February deadline, HMRC will begin contacting direct sellers who have not come forward, if HMRC believes they owe tax.

For information on tax for the self-employed direct seller, visit http://bit.ly/Pe2ROG. A YouTube video also offers help: http://bit.ly/PtpzVO

To take part in the campaign, direct sellers need to:

- Tell HMRC about the tax due and make arrangements to pay any tax, interest, and penalties owed by 28 February 2013

- Complete a form online at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/campaigns/dsc-form.pdf

Some £547million has been raised by HMRC from voluntary disclosures, and almost £140 million from follow-up activity, including 20,000 completed investigations. HMRC campaigns launched so far have targeted offshore investments, medical professionals, plumbers, VAT defaulters, coaches and tutors, electricians, online traders and higher rate taxpayers with outstanding tax returns. There are also 13 criminal investigations underway, with five convictions already secured.

Notes for editors

1. For help and support, direct sellers can phone 0845 602 3353, where a dedicated team is available to give information.

2. The benefits of the Direct Selling campaign are that those who make a full disclosure:
- will be offered a simple and straightforward way to put their tax affairs right; and
- may not be charged a penalty at all, with most receiving a penalty of no more than 10 per cent of the tax they owe.

3. Once this disclosure opportunity closes on 28 February, direct sellers who have not come forward but are found to have unpaid tax liabilities may face higher penalties, rising to 100 per cent of the tax unpaid or, potentially, criminal investigation.

4. Further information on HMRC campaigns: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/campaigns/news.htm

5. The terms being made available during this window are in line with those HMRC offers for any full and accurate unprompted voluntary disclosure of tax liabilities.

6. Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk

7. HMRC’s flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.