eBay traders warned to register with HMRC

New guidelines published to help online traders learn requirements

People running an online business via auction website eBay are being warned to check if they need to register as self-employed.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has produced a new online guide for people who trade online. The guide outlines the rules for people who trade online for a profit, as opposed to those selling low value items from home.

HMRC has warned that you must be registered if your online activity involves:

Selling goods that were bought with the intention of re-selling them, selling items made yourself for a profit, selling or buying on behalf of others for financial gain or receiving payment for a service.

Anyone running an online business should register for VAT, and may need to pay income tax, national insurance contributions, and fill out a self-assessment return. E-traders starting a new business must let HMRC know within three months of starting trading.

It is estimated that around 68,000 people make all or a large proportion of their living through selling items on eBay.

HMRC is reportedly using a robotic computer software programme called Xenon to scan internet sites looking for people making a lot of transactions on auction sites.

According to the BBC, 200 people registered as online traders in the first two days of HMRC’s campaign to alert e-traders of their legal requirements.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2007

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