In an attempt to catch out tax evaders, HMRC is using Google’s Street View application as a monitoring tool to assess those suspected of tax evasion.
It is believed by the HMRC, that there is a large discrepancy between what people are earning and declaring and they are determind to recoup some of the loss. Google Street View is being used as this is a quick and cheap option to try and prove people have undeclared income rather than visiting their homes.
The website is able to provide kerbside views of both homes and businesses which enables inspectors to quickly assess a person’s lifestyle and to see whether or not it matches their declared income.
It is also reported that HMRC now routinely scour the internet for information when investigating an individual and are monitoring suspected tax evaders’ social networking feeds, such as Twitter and Facebook to gain further information on their lifestyle.
A spokesman for HMRC said, “We do use Google Street View but our investigations have a greater focus in looking at an individual’s bank account, employment history and the value of their property. No tax enquiry would commence purely on the basis of information from Street View – indentifying cases for possible enquiry is a very sophisticated process.”