HMRC uses social media to hunt tax fraudsters

A Lancashire expert is warning that tax inspectors are now using social media to hunt for evidence of tax fraud.

According to industry reports, HMRC has begun to use internet research to feed into its computer systems which are used when targeting tax investigation.

Now Nadeem Hussain, director and head of tax at Pierce, the Blackburn-based accountancy and business advisory group, has pointed out that such information is public and HMRC is perfectly within its rights to include it in research into investigations.

Nadeem warns that businesses or individuals leaving themselves open to accusations of tax fraud should be aware that investigations will go into greater depth than ever.

The news has come to light following the launch of HMRC’s new computer system, Connect.

He said: “Many people forget that the information they place on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter can easily be viewed by the public.

“Just as many employers are now using social media to research potential hirings, HMRC is using this very modern source to inform its tax investigations, looking for patterns of behaviour or spending, for instance.

“The organisation already uses a number of different sources to gather the information it needs, such as documents from Companies House or credit reference agencies, and social media is simply another weapon in its armoury. “Businesses and individuals should assume that all public information can form part of an investigation, and if they are facing accusations of tax fraud should seek the appropriate advice.”