HMRC explains 'primary mission' as it spies on people's social media posts

HMRC has explained its "primary" mission as it spies on people's social media posts. The taxman and government department has started to clamp down on individuals and businesses which are not paying the right amount of tax they owe.

Adam Collins from IgniteSEO, said: "HMRC's primary mission is to ensure that individuals and businesses are paying the correct amount of tax. In recent years, they have started leveraging technology and data analytics to enhance their investigative processes."

He added: "HMRC can legally view and analyse any publicly available information on social media. This includes posts, photos, videos and other shared content that may suggest a lifestyle inconsistent with reported income or assets."

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"While social media activity alone may not trigger an investigation, it can be used to corroborate other evidence. For example, if someone reports minimal income but frequently posts about luxury vacations and expensive purchases, this discrepancy can raise red flags.

"When social media activity is suspicious, it often leads to more comprehensive investigations. This can include audits, requests for additional documentation, and interviews." The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group warned: "If you don’t comply with a tax obligation, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) might charge you a penalty. Also, if you are late in paying tax (or a penalty), HMRC will charge interest on the outstanding amount.

There are four main categories of penalty which might be charged under self assessment. It includes late submissions and late payments as well as a failure to notify, and also inaccuracy. All these penalties can be appealed, for example if you have a reasonable excuse, special circumstances apply, or you took reasonable care to get your tax right.

If you make an appeal, you must usually do so within 30 days of the date of the penalty notice, the LITRG said.