Gig Economy, Income Tax and HMRC – Are people hiding without Halloween masks?

Gig Economy

The gig economy probably existed before William Pitt introduced Income Tax in 1798 and gradually evolved from musicians travelling around doing gigs to the present day enigma termed ‘the gig economy’.

Now with The Revenue’s spyware and a record number of snitches around, even the rich singers and comedians who sometimes fit in a private party or a 30 minute “cash” appearance on their way to an agency booking, can get caught out.

With charity events and VIP birthdays all popping up like pumpkins on HMRC screens, there is a foreboding atmosphere of big brother as we teeter towards Brexit.

Uber and Air BnB are just two of the new kids on the block who, almost seamlessly, have managed to infiltrate the UK, getting under the skin of established taxi companies and hotel groups who behave properly within our tax system.

In the case of Air BnB the company seem to be operated from afar. However the campaigns and projects division of HMRC have been methodically writing to naughty householders doing more than one type of laundering.

It seems an appropriate time with broomsticks and magic around to try to work out why folk from Canada and the like can operate non-tax paying companies right under our noses.

There is a further mysterious irony going on in that it seems that the Uber drivers, few of whom have passed any local authority tests such as hackney drivers have to sit, defend their right to be self employed.

This endeavour by large numbers of these drivers would be admirable but one does wonder how many are actually declaring any income or indeed filling in tax returns.

When they saw their ‘workers’ demonstrating against the government proposal to treat them as employees (with the consequential tax implications for the company of Uber) the Uber directors must have wondered what they had done to become so saintly that their own workers wanted to take a tax hit on their behalf.

The suspicion remains that some of the drivers may not actually have understood the UK tax system or what is required and of course, that leads to the question of why so many of us need so many taxis anyway ?

Hmrc who work hand in hand with other agencies like border control are hopefully on the case.

Perhaps Income Tax could be collected at the point at which the passenger passes over his or her credit or debit card details so that 20% automatically goes to the UK treasury.

Wikipedia confirms that the derivation of the name Uber is from a German word meaning ‘over’, ‘above’ or ‘across’ and the colloquial meaning is ‘topmost’ or ‘super’. So these apparent non-UK resident directors do indeed seem to be blessed with the Midas touch.

In this topsy-turvy world there remains a  suspicion that amongst the many lovely people operating in the gig economy some may just wish it was Halloween every day of the year.

Ricky Steedman

Ricky worked as an Investigator in the Inland Revenue for over 20 years before founding Steedman & Company in 1987, giving him the experience and knowledge that enabled him to help so many clients over the years.

His appearance on a Channel 4 television programme about the inside workings of Revenue and Customs was watched by 4.1m which sealed his status as one of the most highly respected tax consultants to ever work in Scotland.

Ricky led all tax investigation and COP 9 cases, using his extensive knowledge to help people reach a positive resolution to their situation.

Ricky passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in June 2022 after leaving his indelible mark on the company he founded and headed for over 35 years.