New legislation, which came into effect at the start of this month (September 2013) is set to allow Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs access to credit and debit card payment data.
The move, signaled in the last Budget, came into effect through the Finance Act 2013 and allows transactional access to merchant acquirer data. The merchant acquirer is the 'middle man' between the bank account of the business and the cardholder - it is responsible for processing the transaction and allowing the trader to accept card payments.
It is no secret the treasury are setting out to claw tax revenue lost through evasion, the Government provided a near £1 billion budget for fraud prevention and this is part of it's continued efforts.
The data will be anonymised, so no personal information of the cardholder will be retrievable by the taxman, however the amounts paid and volume of transactions will be recorded. This information will then allocated against UK businesses to verify the sales levels reported - and help weed out any possible evasion.
Current treasury estimates put the fraud reduction saving at over £50 million per year, a small amount compared to the total cost of evasion at £9 billion per annum.
A major advertising campaign is now running for the next month. Billboards and radio adverts declaring the new efforts to create a level playing field between UK businesses.