Tax rules are the same for sales, whether it’s online or in shops

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Q: I RECENTLY started buying and selling things on ebay. Like a lot of people, I have a lot of things I no longer need and I have been delighted at how I have managed to turn these things into cash.

I am enjoying the process so much I am thinking of stepping things up and buying and selling online. I am not doing any other work at the moment because of health problems.

I know some people manage to make a living buying and selling on ebay, and I am thinking this is something which might a small business I could do at home.

However, I wonder at what point I have to tell the tax people if I start running a business and how much tax I will be expected to pay on anything I might make in the future.

OK East Lothian

AHM Revenue & Customs responds: It would be extremely unlikely that any one selling their old property on the internet would be seen as running a business – they would not therefore need to register with us.

Internet trading may be a relatively recent development but the same tax rules apply to internet trading as to any other form and our approach to ensuring the right tax is paid remains the same irrespective of the trading environment.

There is no new approach or special rules for internet traders – consequently you can happily sell personal possessions online without notifying HMRC. You are only trading if goods are purchased with the intention of selling them at a profit.

Anyone who would like guidance on their particular circumstances is welcome to get in touch with HMRC.

We cannot comment on individual cases but if someone has no other income its possible to earn £8,105, before paying any tax, but if someone is running a business, they are obliged to register with us, even if they are not making a profit.

• If you have a consumer issue that you would like tackling, contact Claire Smith on 0131 620 8432 or e-mail