The European Commission is satisfied that “sufficient progress has been achieved” on three priority issues in phase 1 of the Brexit talks, the commission announced on December 8, while questions remained about the implications of commitments given regarding Northern Ireland.
It is now for the European Council to decide at a December 15 meeting whether the negotiations should proceed to their second phase, the commission said, adding that its assessment, set out in a communication to the European Council (Article 50), was based on a joint report agreed by negotiators and endorsed by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
My news story for Tax Analysts, December 8 (paywall)
A bill to lay the foundations for a stand-alone, post-Brexit customs regime will help ensure “that goods can move smoothly and safely in and out of the UK, and that everyone pays the right tax,” the government said, a week after a parliamentary committee warned that failure to establish a Brexit-ready system would be catastrophic.
The 170-page taxation (cross-border trade) bill, formerly known as the customs bill, will allow the UK to set and collect its own duty on goods entering the country and to implement different outcomes of the Brexit negotiations, including an implementation period, HM Treasury and the Department for International Trade said in a joint release on November 21.
My news story for Tax Analysts, November 23 (paywall)
The UK government stressed its intention to preserve the UK’s constitutional integrity while avoiding the creation of a hard border with Ireland, as members of the House of Commons began detailed scrutiny of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
James Brokenshire, secretary of state for Northern Ireland, has stressed that the government intends to “avoid any physical infrastructure” on the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. “We welcome the European Commission’s commitment to this as an important step forward,” he told members of Parliament on November 15.
My news story for Tax Analysts, November 16 ($)
HM Revenue & Customs will recruit up to 5,000 additional staff in 2018, the UK government said less than a week after HMRC Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary Jon Thompson told a parliamentary committee that the department was planning to review its priorities in the light of uncertainty created by Brexit …
“Alongside the negotiations in Brussels, it is crucial that we are putting our own domestic preparations in place so that we are ready at the point that we leave the EU,” a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said after [an October 31 cabinet meeting]. “Cabinet heard many of these will be needed even in our preferred scenario of a bold and ambitious deal — for example, implementing either of our proposed customs arrangements will require investment in new systems and customs officers by HMRC.” Read more:
My news story for Tax Analysts, November 1 ($)
HM Revenue & Customs will review its priorities early next year and may need up to 5,000 additional staff to secure successful delivery of a new customs service if the UK leaves the European Union without a customs agreement, according to HMRC Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary Jon Thompson.
Announcing on October 12 an inquiry into Brexit and the future of customs, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee noted that HMRC was due to complete a five-year program for a new customs declaration service (CDS) by early 2017. Delays have meant that the CDS will not be fully operational until January 2019. Significant work is still required to meet the revised target, a National Audit Office report found in July …
My news story for Tax Analysts, October 30 ($)
Public accounts committee, oral evidence: Brexit and the Future of Customs
Uncertainty over the outcome of negotiations on the UK’s post-Brexit customs arrangements may force HM Revenue & Customs and traders to incur expenditure that could turn out to be unnecessary, officials told the House of Commons Treasury Committee September 14.
Committee Chair Nicky Morgan asked Jim Harra, HMRC’s director general for customer strategy and tax design, when he would need to know the outcome of negotiations with the EU-27 countries, which have not yet begun, to be able to start “putting things in place.”
“We’ve been advising the Department for Exiting the European Union and advising ministers on what the choices are . . . and the future partnership paper has been produced,” Harra said. The UK government’s proposals for a future customs relationship with the EU, published August 15, outline two broad approaches … Read more:
My news story for Tax Analysts, September 15 (paywall)