Taxman monitoring Facebook and Twitter accounts

We all know that HMRC and the tax collecting authorities seem worryingly content to let huge corporations and banks fiddle their balance sheets into Stradivarius like proportions. That they strike obscene deals with companies like Vodafone caught with their grubby fingers in the public biscuit tin. That there is, as usual, one rule for those that can afford to lobby their own rules and one rule for the rest of us.

But perhaps what you didn’t know is that they are actively mining social network accounts for clues as to anything that might be slipping under their traditional radar.

Bought a new car and mentioned it in your status update? Put up some poolside snaps from a holiday you can’t afford on paper? Mused on a new ‘off the books’ job you’ve recently landed?

Well you may want to careful as HMRC are trawling the internet in an attempt to delve deeper into people’s private lives in a worrying, if not surprising increase in state intrusion. Rather than going macro and trying to prise a few billion back from grasping financiers, they are headed micro, and intend to use all legal means at their disposal – however ethically ambiguous – to monitor the lifestyles of ordinary citizens relative to their declared incomes.

Mike Hainey, head of analytics at HMRC, says that since the implementation of their new data analytics system, they have expanded their range of data sources into areas like social media and the wider web.

"[It's] information that we can obtain that is visible and available legally for HMRC to review,"

To be honest – this can’t come as too much of a shock. Social networks are as private as you allow them to be. Employers have long investigated current and prospective employees through Facebook and the sad and sorry truth is that building an honest picture of yourself in the virtual arena comes with risks attached.

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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