Tax & admin · 24 May 2018

HMRC starts chasing individuals who made money from the Royal Wedding

HMRC has developed new systems to identify changes in income

Did your business make money from the Royal Wedding? HMRC is beginning to reap back tax earned off the back of the event, a leading accountant has warned.

Thousands of entrepreneurs will have made the most of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on Saturday, from short-term property rentals to selling memorabilia online. However, the tax office has already set its sights on the tax revenue due from Royal Wedding income.

According to Nimesh Shah, a partner at accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg, HMRC will be “looking closely” at such individuals.

Some eBay sellers sold souveneir goody bags from the Royal Wedding for between £750 and £1,500, while it was reported that international broadcasters paid up to £300,000 in rent for homes overlooking the wedding route.

Those who used platforms like Airbnb and eBay to generate cash should expect to come under scrutiny for undeclared tax, while officials could even look at local newspaper listings for clues.

“Any apparent mis-alignment is likely to be investigated by HMRC – particularly if the tax at stake is significant,” Shah added.

HMRC officers will also be using the new “Connect” computer system to identify changes in income and track down individuals who earned extensive amounts.

Tax-free trading allowance

In 2017, HMRC introduced a “trading allowance” to permit individuals to earn £1,000 from trading activities – such as selling freelance services or goods on online marketplaces – with no tax liability, as well as a separate £1,000 allowance for rental income, i.e. through Airbnb.

Previously, all of this income would have been declared to HMRC, but people are no longer required to if it is at or below the threshold.

Shah explained that the trading allowance would cover local people selling bottled water, strawberries or other goods from outside their homes during the Windsor wedding, as well as driveway space for parking.

Meanwhile, HMRC’s “Rent a Room” scheme allowed Windsor residents renting out their rooms to earn the first £7,500 tax free.

Royal Wedding hits independent businesses

Despite warnings HMRC is ready to chase entrepreneurs who generated income from the Royal Wedding, new research has revealed that independent business owners suffered an 8% drop in sales over the weekend.

According to data from Vend, convenience stores saw sales jump by 5%, while other sectors suffered. Fashion and apparel retailers fared worst, with sales dropping 24% on the previous weekend.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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