UK tax au­thor­ity warns North­ern busi­nesses

The Irish Times - - Business Today - BARRY O’HAL­LO­RAN

The UK tax au­thor­ity has writ­ten to busi­nesses in North­ern Ire­land warn­ing them to pre­pare for a “no-deal” Brexit.

Fears are grow­ing that the Bri­tish par­lia­ment will not back an exit agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated with the EU by UK premier Theresa May, in­creas­ing the risk that the state will leave the bloc with­out a deal.

HM Revenue & Cus­toms (HMRC), as the tax au­thor­ity is called, has writ­ten to busi­nesses in North­ern Ire­land that im­port and ex­port goods to and from the EU telling them to “con­tinue to get ready for the pos­si­bil­ity of no deal”.

Cus­toms union

The let­ter states that if the busi­ness only trades with the Repub­lic it does not need to take any of the steps out­lined, but adds that the au­thor­ity will write again with in­for­ma­tion on deal­ing with this ju­ris­dic­tion.

A “no-deal” or hard Brexit would shut Bri­tain and North­ern Ire­land out of the cus­toms union, which fa­cil­i­tates the free move­ment of goods be­tween EU mem­ber states.

HMRC says that busi­nesses should im­me­di­ately ap­ply for a UK eco­nomic oper­a­tor reg­is­tra­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber, which they will need to con­tinue trad­ing with the EU and to get au­tho­ri­sa­tions that will speed up cus­toms pro­cess­ing.

The au­thor­ity also ad­vises busi­nesses to de­cide if they want to hire agents to make im­port and/or ex­port dec­la­ra­tions for them, or if they wish to do this them­selves.If they opt to use agents they should find out now what in­for­ma­tion these or­gan­i­sa­tions will need from them.

If they choose to make their own dec­la­ra­tions, they need to buy soft­ware for this.

Se­cu­rity dec­la­ra­tions

Fi­nally, HMRC says that busi­nesses should con­tact hauliers or what­ever or­gan­i­sa­tion moves their goods to es­tab­lish if those com­pa­nies can make safety and se­cu­rity dec­la­ra­tions for them, or if the North­ern busi­nesses need to make those dec­la­ra­tions them­selves.

The let­ter ac­knowl­edges that Mrs May has ne­go­ti­ated a with­drawal agree­ment with the EU de­signed to en­sure a smooth with­drawal in March.

“The deal must now be rat­i­fied by both the UK and Euro­pean par­lia­ments,” HMRC states. “Un­til this has hap­pened the gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to plan for both deal and no-deal sce­nar­ios.”

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