Media and politics

With a no-deal Brexit appearing increasingly likely, HMRC is now warning that, in that event, 245,000 businesses would face a tsunami of new customs declarations, tariffs and VAT obligations after 29 March.

The Treasury Committee has published its report on Budget 2018. The committee has emphasised the importance of the design of the Digital Services Tax (DST) taking account of consultation responses.

One new SI relevant to tax advisers has been tabled this week: Value Added Tax (Input Tax) (Specified Supplies) Regulations 2019. This is a ‘made negative’ resolution (see below), laid on Feb 5th with the objection period running out on Mar 16th.

The Finance Bill went through all its stages in the House of Lords yesterday, ahead of Royal Assent which is expected next week.

The Treasury Committee staged the latest witness session in its inquiry into tax enquiries and resolution of tax disputes this afternoon (6 February 2019). The Government's Making Tax Digital project was slated by FSB and ICAEW during the session, with the FSB making some grave predictions about its impact.


Peers have been debating the Trade Bill - the companion bill to the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Act – which covers non-tariff barriers in relation to ‘transitioning’ the EU’s trade agreements to UK agreements. An amendment was passed last month to pause the Bill’s passage at the end of the committee stage until detailed proposals on future trade agreements have been published. In the meantime the committee stage continues.

The most significant Brexit-related development of the week was a series of votes in the House of Commons on amendments to an anodyne government motion, which gave different groups of MPs a chance to suggest alternative ways forward on Brexit. The key results were that Parliament failed to ‘take control’ of the Brexit process from government, and MPs indicated that the withdrawal agreement could get parliamentary support if the Irish Border backstop is replaced with something more acceptable to MPs. With the EU repeating its opposition to reopening the withdrawal agreement this will not be achieved easily. There is, however, increasing speculation that compromise might be possible – with both the EU and Labour – around a UK-EU customs union.

MSPs have backed the general principles Scottish Government’s Budget for the year ahead following a vote in Parliament on Thursday.

They voted by 67 votes to 58 in favour of the Budget (Scotland) (No.3) Bill after the Scottish Green Party reached a last minute agreement with the government on further tax-raising powers for councils.

The government continues to lay Brexit-related statutory instruments (SIs) in preparation for a possible ‘no deal’ exit from the EU, including a number in the tax area. Since the start of 2019 six VAT-related SIs have been laid, plus three relating to Excise Duty and one relating to Customs.

MPs on a delegated legislation committee have approved three statutory instruments (SIs) establishing a customs union between the UK and three Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man), following less than 20 minutes of debate.