Critical update, Monday 17 August: in a defiant and unapologetic statement, Revenue Ireland has confirmed that these letters were legitimate but sent out erroneously. Their statement confirms a report in the Irish Times stating that there were 2,000 of these letters sent out by mistake.
Here’s the EU Vat Action Campaign on what we know about these letters, and why blaming it on a “system error” at the Irish Revenue is just not bloody good enough.
Today there have been a number of tweets from UK-based microtraders and businesses who have received what appear to be legitimate – and massive – VATMOSS invoices from the Irish Revenue.
Any other letters received from, supposedly, Irish revenue? Pretty certain it's fraudulent, but you know… pic.twitter.com/3MTPopBOZf
— David Coveney #FBPE (@davecoveney) August 15, 2015
Anyone else received a wildly inaccurate #VATMOSS bill from IE today? If I had enough sales to owe IE 17k EUR in VAT I'd be a very happy boy
— (((Stephen Harris))) (@stephenharris88) August 15, 2015
@stephenharris88 😀 You’re lucky it’s only €17K. Mine’s for €294K!
— Alastair Houghton (@al45tair) August 15, 2015
— Nicole Pascoe (@missnicbic) August 15, 2015
— Ysolda Teague (@ysolda) August 15, 2015
— Adele (@WebWAHM) August 15, 2015
— Penny Pullan (@PennyPullan) August 15, 2015
— Ashley Gibson (@NoseGraze) August 15, 2015
— Sander Potjer (@sanderpotjer) August 16, 2015
— Rachel Andrew (@rachelandrew) August 15, 2015
— Kate Davies (@KDaviesdesigns) August 15, 2015
— Astute Music (@astutemusic) August 15, 2015
— Julius Solaris (@tojulius) August 16, 2015
— TravellingTwo (@travellingtwo) August 17, 2015
A couple of questions here. If this isn’t a scam –
- Who and what is the source of these letters being sent out?
- Who and what is the source of the five and six figure quotes, e.g. what orifice did they pull these numbers out of?
- How did the Irish Revenue get these UK traders’ data? In other words
- Does using your national MOSS portal mean that your business data is shared across European tax authorities regardless? Alternatively
- Is this a data leak from the Irish Revenue? Inside job?
- Is this the result of a hack into a MOSS system?
Is this an incredibly professional scam? We’ve seen this happen with poorly thought out EU digital laws before. If it is a scam, then how did the scammers acquire a database of what anecdotally appears to be every UK trader registered on the MOSS system? Given the data protection obligations that VATMOSS created for every European trader regardless of size or turnover, from the first penny of the first sale, any hacking into or leak of those traders’ personal details would be the sickest irony of this entire saga.
If you receive one of these letters, please share it with the EUVAT Action Campaign and tweet it with the hashtag #VATMOSS.
And here’s to all of you dealing with these letters on a Saturday, because of an ignorantly implemented tax reform that should never have involved you in the first place.
About the author
Heather Burns is a digital law specialist in Glasgow, Scotland. She researches, writes, publishes, consults, and speaks extensively on internet laws and policies which affect the crafts of web design and development. She has been designing and developing web sites since 1997 and was a professional web site designer from 2007-2015. She holds a postgraduate certification in internet law and policy from the University of Strathclyde. Learn about hiring Heather to write, speak, or consult.