HMRC search internet to catch tax cheats

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HMRC is scouring the internet in its relentless drive to unearth proof of tax fraud and evasion, reports Chartered Accountants Northampton Harris & Co.

And it is using its award-winning new Connect analytics computer system to help it spot patterns that it may have previously missed.

A report in Computing quotes Mike Hainey, head of analytics at HMRC, as revealing that “information that we can obtain that is visible and available legally for HMRC to review," is being used to pin down fraud.

While social media such as Facebook and Twitter would be one avenue, others include websites such as, where traders advertise their wares and their clients leave feedback, says the magazine.

Hainey told the trade title that “departmental data at one end of the spectrum, commercial data, buying in information around businesses et cetera... information from other government departments and other foreign FISCs [fiscal regimes]” as well as “information that we may obtain from the internet” was also used.

HMRC"s Connect analytics system scooped the “Best Big Data Project” prize at the UK IT Industry Awards in November 2012.

HMRC is reported to have been trialing the system for the past 18-month in a bid to forge a deeper and more intelligent approach to pulling together information from disparate tax systems, such as National Insurance and VAT.

An HMRC spokesman said:

‘HMRC uses a wide range of information sources that we acquire legally to drive our compliance interventions, this includes information from the internet.’

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