And the winner is……
Jeremy Cape and Dickie Chan of Squire Patton Boggs discuss the proposed VAT rules which will apply if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, without a deal on trade or other laws and regulations.
HMRC has published guidance entitled VAT for businesses if there’s no Brexit deal. This guidance is at pains to point out that a scenario of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement “remains unlikely”.
We still await more clarity on the government’s desired position on VAT if there is a deal. If, as expected, the UK leaves the EU VAT area under a negotiated deal, it may not be dissimilar to the no-deal position.
The UK as a third country Little in the guidance should come as a major surprise. Much of the guidance simply states the consequences for any country of being outside the EU VAT area.
The government has said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit it will introduce “postponed accounting for import VAT”. In the words of the guidance: “this means that UK VAT-registered businesses importing goods to the UK will be able to account for import VAT on their VAT return, rather than paying import VAT on or soon after the time that the goods arrive at the UK border”. Many had predicted that this would happen, partly to minimise the need for infrastructure at the Irish and French borders.
All imports affected What fewer predicted is that the government would go further and apply postponed accounting for all imports, not just those from the EU27 member states.
As Sir Humphrey would have said: “this is a courageous decision”.
The government is saying that traditional import VAT (ie collecting VAT at the point the goods enter the VAT area) is not necessary in a VAT system. There are issues in respect of the increased opportunity for fraudulent behaviour. For example, how does the border agent check that the VAT registration number is valid?
Why postponed accounting? It may be that the government feels constrained by WTO rules from differentiating between the EU27 member states and the rest of the world in applying postponed accounting. It’s not certain that this would be the case.
The government’s overall position on postponed accounting may well not be driven by a desire to avoid traders having to fund import VAT on goods purchased from the EU27 (although it has gone down well in the business community), but a belated realisation that VAT is capable of gumming up the borders to an unacceptable degree. Postponed accounting doesn’t get rid of a VAT border, but does soften it.
Parcels subject to VAT In the event of no deal, the government is also abolishing Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR), not just for imports from the EU27, but worldwide. This means that goods entering the UK as parcels sent by overseas businesses will be liable for VAT, unless the items shipped are already exempt or zero rated.
The guidance explains that: “for parcels valued up to and including £135, a technology-based solution will allow VAT to be collected from the overseas business selling the goods into the UK. Overseas businesses will charge VAT at the point of purchase and will be expected to register with an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) digital service and account for VAT due.”
Other commentators have already noted wryly that “technology-based solutions”, particularly those not backed up by detail, are not renowned for their ease of implementation. Even if such a solution exists, there may be challenges in getting overseas businesses to register for UK VAT, understand UK VAT, charge UK VAT or even regard it as constitutional in their home country. What if such a business, having charged VAT, does not then pay it over to HMRC?
EC sales lists UK businesses selling goods would not need to complete EC sales lists, but they will need to retain evidence to prove that goods have left the UK.
The guidance reminds us that: “UK businesses should check the relevant import VAT rules in the EU Member State concerned.” Essentially whatever the UK does, the EU27 is likely to treat imports from the UK in the same way as from any other third country.
Finance sector In theory, a no-deal Brexit could lead to enhanced VAT recovery by certain financial institutions. The guidance says “For UK businesses supplying insurance and financial services, if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, input VAT deduction rules for financial services supplied to the EU may be changed. We will update businesses with more information in due course” It appears that a change in the law would be forthcoming.
There is no suggestion that this will change where the bank’s customer is based outside the UK or EU27. This is a different approach to elsewhere in the guidance, where changes are generally to apply to all countries other than the UK.
VAT MOSS There is also a reminder for digital businesses to register for the VAT MOSS non-Union scheme in an EU Member State after the date the UK leaves the EU.
No more TOMS The government will be working with the travel industry to minimise the impact of the disappearance in the UK of the EU Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme.
Irish border The Irish border is currently invisible. It has no barriers as required by the Good Friday Agreement, (also known as the Belfast Agreement). But once the UK leaves the EU, the Northern Irish border will form the edge of the EU area.
The guidance says “The UK would stand ready to engage constructively to meet our commitments and act in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland, recognising the very significant challenges that the lack of a UK-EU legal agreement would pose in this unique and highly sensitive context”. The government still appears to be grasping for a solution to what continues to be a seemingly insurmountable problem.
Conclusion In a no-deal scenario, the UK will unilaterally make changes to its VAT system so that businesses do not have to fund import VAT, which is likely to cause increased fraud, and we are still clueless about how VAT will work on the Irish border.
Seven months to go!
European Union VAT article by Jeremy Cape
Jeremy Cape is a tax and public policy partner in the London office of Squire Patton Boggs, advising on a wide range of issues, including M&A, private equity, finance, restructuring and insolvency, and VAT. He is a member of the legal advisory panel of the Red Tape Initiative, which will identify the most important, least controversial opportunities for cutting red tape in a post-Brexit world. He can be followed on twitter @jeremydcape.
Very Interesting article in the Independent.ie re what may or may not be haooening to your private emails…did I say ‘private’..is there such a thing online now?
Murray Cloney & Associates Ltd are delighted to acknowledge yesterday’s publication of the DBEI report on the requirement to address the skills needs arising from the potential trade implications of Brexit. In particular we note recommendations we now quote below, some of which we put forward with cross-industry colleagues at the Cork workshop in Februrary. Its rewarding to see regional SME voices represented at national level in this important report published ahead of Brexit and the challenges it may hold for many of our cients. The full report may be downloaded from the DBEI website at; https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Skills-needs-potential-trade-implications-Brexit.pdf
Overarching recommendations Recommendation 1 Launch an intensified industry awareness and outreach campaign to enhance understanding amongst internationally trading and FTDL enterprises and to proactively address the skills needs arising from Brexit. 2 Introduce additional customs awareness and higher level customs clearance training and advice for third country trading as the implications of Brexit become clearer. 3 Enhance the provision of financial management advice, training and mentoring for internationally trading enterprises, with a particular focus on currency management, VAT for third country trading, and contract management. 4 Undertake targeted campaigns to attract skilled personnel from overseas. 5 Promote measures to enhance the ability to diversify trade with non-UK markets. Enhance international trading and Logistics/Supply Chain content in education and training provision Build up Ireland’s foreign language capability for international trade (particularly with Eurozone markets) Enhancement of intercultural awareness and international business experience Build up product design and development skills 6 Establish a National Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group, to manage a coordinated response from the Logistics and Supply Chain sectors to promote the sectors and their skills needs. 7 Develop a schools/communication toolkit and awareness raising campaigns for Logistics, Supply Chain and Transportation careers across all sectors, and an improved understanding of the cross sectoral skills needs, employment numbers and career opportunities in supply chain activities 8 Support the development, and promote the rollout of and engagement with the Logistics and Service apprenticeship programmes.
UK edging to a softer Brexit but road to a deal still looks very rocky Irish businesses need to prepare for chaos ahead as the talks reach the crunch stage
Cliff Taylor (Irish Times)
Theresa May scraped through a key vote on Brexit legislation in the House of Commons on Tuesday, though only – it would appear – by making key concessions to those looking for a softer version of Brexit. While there is predictable debate over what was agreed, the UK parliament looks set to have a bigger role in agreeing the shape of the exit package . This looks like another lurch towards a softer version of Brexit and appears to make a “ no deal” outcome less likely, with the UK government not having parliamentary support for this. But the road from where we are now to softer shade of Brexit still looks very rocky. It is still hard to see how the deal gets done. This means that for Irish businesses trading with the UK, the uncertainty will just roll on. Economics – and common sense – suggests that the UK and the EU will do a deal on a softer version of Brexit, but politics keeps getting in the way. The problem in terms of business planning for the thousands of companies trading between Ireland and the UK, or operating supply chains across the two territories, should not be underestimated. The range of possible outcomes remains impossibly wide for planning, particularly for those in the most exposed sectors such as food.The threat of sterling volatility as the inevitable rows in the talks ramp up is also real. The UK may continue to move towards a softer Brexit, with increasing support apparent in the UK parliament for this route. But the huge political difficulties in London, the red lines in Brussels and, crucially, the shortage of time could still scupper these talks, or at least create huge uncertainty in the months ahead. Businesses relying on the transition period coming into play next March to ensure that trading rules remain the same until the end of 2020 need to realise that this is far from done and dusted. The transition is part of the overall withdrawal agreement which is not due to be signed off until October, with a number of hurdles – including the “backstop” deal for the Irish Border – to be tied down beforehand. Enda Kenny underlines his Brexit legacy Kathy Sheridan: Boris Johnson not fit for one of UK’s highest offices May dodges bullet after extraordinary Brexit Bill negotiation This is all so volatile and unpredictable because proper negotiations haven’t got beyond the first base, which saw an early outline agreement on the UK’s exit bill. Since then all the action has been in London and while there has been talks between the UK and EU teams, there has been no clarity from London and little high level political involvement from the EU’s big players. While a motion to give the House of Commons a vote on the withdrawal agreement was defeated on Tuesday , the price was that the proposal would be reconsidered in the Lords and much of its direction accepted. With the balance in the Commons apparently moving to some kind of softer Brexit, this is important and the political game-planning about how this might pan out is already being discussed. But big barriers to progress remain. The recent interchange between the UK and EU over the Irish Border issue illustrates the difficulty by showing how a hard-fought political compromise in London simply does not cut it in Brussels. The UK’s proposal on the backstop for the Irish Border – the way of avoiding a hard Border if no other way can be found via an eventual trade deal – was politely greeted in Brussels. But it wasn’t long before the EU negotiators were pointing out its shortcomings.
Political sands This, in microcosm, is the problem in the whole negotiations. The only solution politically acceptable to all sides in London will be some kind of arrangement which allows the UK to retain a lot of the benefits of membership but frees it of the resulting obligations. The question now is whether the political sands are shifting fast enough in London to mean concessions can be made in time to achieve a deal by sidelining the Brexit lobby. It still all looks very tricky. Talk to anyone in the European Commission, or Continental politicians about Brexit and you quickly realise two things. First, they aren’t as worried about it as we are, for obvious reasons. And second, they are hugely attached to what they call the integrity of the single market, which guarantees free movement of people, capital, goods and services. In other words the UK’s ability to pick and choose one or more of these is severely limited. If UK politics do move towards a softer Brexit, there are various theories on how this might be structured and what additional measures would be needed in relation to the Irish Border. But whatever the soft Brexit destination, it is still difficult to see how we get to there from where we are now. If the UK wants to remain in the Single Market, for example, how is the issue of freedom of movement to be dealt with? The next interesting point to watch is how far the EU pushes the UK for assurances on the withdrawal deal at the June summit, particularly in relation to the Irish Border. But either way this still looks very messy. Irish businesses need to continue to prepare for the worst and some version of a hard Brexit, while still hoping that it might be avoided. And sterling weakness could hit whenever the big row comes, whether that is June or the Autumn. And come it will.
Clients are also invited to inspect our GDPR Implementation Plan and Guidelines Document available in the office for viewing by appointment and should you have any query in this area please email our data officer directly on; firstname.lastname@example.org
MCAL were delighted to attend today’s Intertrade Ireland’s ‘Practical Help to Navigate Brexit’ event, held in the brand new event centre in Pairc Ui Choimh. Chaired by RTE’s George Lee, the panel included Dr Vincent Power, A&L Goodbody, Moira Creedon, Artemis Consulting, Brian Murphy, Irish Exporters Association, Sarah Foley, Public Affairs Executive Cork Chamber and Daniel Buckley,MD Cloverhill Food Ingredients Ltd. As a Brexit company’call to action’, this event urged all to ‘Plan, Act and Engage’ ahead of next year’s March Brexit deadline.Using innovative smartphone audience poll technology from Slido.com, all attending were able to put questions to the panel which were addressed at the end of the formal deliveries, by a very able panel chaired most professionally by RTE’s George Lee. Intertrade Ireland are currently promoting their Brexit Funding Support Vouchers which are worth €2000 to eligible companies. For more on this see; http://intertradeireland.com/media/readiness-voucher.pdf
Gerry Mac Bride, Brand Development Executive, MCAL and RTE’s George Lee
Government opens €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme for Irish Businesses for applications
- Scheme open to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees
- Loans of up to €1.5 million at a rate of 4% or less
- Scheme has the potential to benefit over 5,000 companies impacted by Brexit
- Scheme administered for Ministers Humphreys’ and Creed’s Departments by SBCI, an agency of Minister Donohoe’s Department
- Scheme delivered in partnership with the EIB Group and European Commission
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed T.D., and Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe T.D. today (March 28) opened the Brexit Loan Scheme for applications to allow for the roll out of €300 million in funding to eligible Irish businesses. The Scheme was launched at the Liffey Trust in Dublin’s inner city.
Eligible businesses can now apply for the Scheme through the participating finance providers: the Scheme is open through Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, with AIB following in June. The first step for businesses will be to complete the eligibility criteria for the Scheme on the SBCI website.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Humphreys said “Coming from a business background, I am acutely aware of the challenges that Brexit poses to firms. This €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme is one of a number of supports that the Government has put in place to help companies prepare.”
“The Scheme will provide much-needed finance to eligible business impacted by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. I am confident that it will make a real difference to firms, enabling them to adapt, change and innovate. This, in turn, will help them to become more competitive, a fundamental trait in any resilient business”, Minister Humphreys added.
In last October’s budget, €14 million was secured by the then Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, together with €9 million by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, for the Brexit Loan Scheme. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s share of funding ensures that at least 40% of the fund will be available to food businesses.
Minister Creed said “The Food Wise 2025 strategy outlines the agri-food sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy and its potential for future growth. Brexit is obviously a significant challenge given our unique exposure to the UK market. Food businesses will need to focus on competitiveness and innovation in order to continue the growth in Irish agri-food exports, which reached a record €13.6 billion in 2017. I am pleased to launch this important Scheme today, for which my Department’s funding ensures that at least 40% of the €300 million will be available to food businesses.”
The Scheme will be open to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees from today, and has the potential to benefit over 5,000 companies.
Minister Donohoe said “I welcome the launch of the Brexit Loan Scheme, which I announced in Budget 2018. The Government recognises the importance of the SME sector to the Irish economy and the potential risks that Brexit will bring to this sector. This Scheme is designed to assist SMEs with their short term working capital needs, supporting them in preparing for the challenges that may lie ahead. It will give SMEs time and the financial support to make the necessary changes to help ensure that their businesses remain competitive so that they can continue to grow into the future.”
Earlier this year Ministers Humphreys, Creed and Donohoe signed a counter guarantee agreement backed by the European Commission through the European Investment Fund (EIF), which is part of the European Investment Bank Group (EIB), so that the €23 million secured in Budget 2018 can be leveraged to provide €300 million to Irish businesses affected by Brexit.
EIB Vice President for Ireland, Andrew McDowell, said “The Brexit Loan Scheme today demonstrates the European Investment Bank’s commitment to the Irish SME market and we are delighted to be partnering with SBCI in Ireland to target innovative Irish SMEs. This €300 million joint scheme with SBCI to address Irish companies’ working capital challenges, bears testament to the EIB Group’s strengthened support to enable new investment by thousands of companies across Ireland at a time of uncertainty relating to Brexit.”
The Scheme will be delivered by the SBCI. It’s CEO Nick Ashmore said “Today’s launch in conjunction with the European Investment Fund (EIF), Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, will provide support to enable eligible businesses impacted by Brexit to have the working capital needed to innovate and diversify, to find new markets, and to grow into the future. This is an important next step for the SBCI as it deploys further risk sharing capacity by building on the success of last year’s Agri Cashflow Support Scheme and the Credit Guarantee Scheme to enhance access to finance for Irish businesses.”
The new EIF support for business investment in Ireland is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the EU InnovFin Finance for Innovators programme. This Scheme is supported by the InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility, with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020 Financial Instruments and the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
About the Brexit Loan Scheme
The Brexit Loan Scheme, which was announced in the 2018 budget will provide affordable financing to businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit or will be in the future. The Scheme, which will be delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through commercial lenders will make €300 million available to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees at an interest rate of 4% or less.
- Loan amount from €25,000 up to a maximum of €1,500,000
- Loan term of up to 3 years
- Loans less than €500,000 will be unsecured
- Interest rate of 4% or less.
Loans can be used for:
- Future working capital requirements to fund innovation, change or adaption the business to mitigate the impact of Brexit.
This Scheme is supported by an agreement with the EIF, and SBCI have signed to support lending toward innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as small Mid-caps under InnovFin – EU finance for innovators, an initiative supported by the European Commission. This agreement allows SBCI to provide guarantees to lenders financing innovative companies in Ireland for a total of €300 million over the next two years with the support of a counter-guarantee provided by the EIF and backed under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. This is the first InnovFin SME counter-guarantee agreement in Ireland, enabling SBCI to enhance innovative companies’ access to funding at favourable conditions.
The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment. More information on EIF’s work under EFSI is available here.
About the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI)
As Ireland’s promotional financial institution, the SBCI’s goal is to ensure access to lower cost longer term funding for Irish SMEs by facilitating the provision of:
- Lower cost funding to finance providers, the benefit of which is passed on to SMEs and which enhances competition in the SME lending market
- Risk-sharing and guarantees that enhance access to finance for SMEs and farmers and that address specific market failures
- Sourcing and delivering EU funding.
All of these elements create a more competitive and dynamic environment for SME finance. The SBCI is a vital part of the country’s financial architecture. By taking a fresh approach to providing access to lower cost finance for SMEs in Ireland, the SBCI is actively supporting the long-term potential of the sector to drive economic growth and create jobs.
About the Juncker Plan
The Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”, is one of the European Commission’s top priorities. It focuses on boosting investments to create jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.
The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the central pillar of the Juncker Plan. It provides a first loss guarantee, allowing the EIB to invest in more, often riskier, projects. The EFSI is already showing concrete results. The projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI so far are expected to mobilise more than €194 billion in investments and support over 426,000 SMEs across all 28 Member States.
The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility is established under the “EU InnovFin Finance for Innovators” initiative developed under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for research and Innovation. It provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between €25,000 and €7.5 million in order to improve access to loan finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises and small mid-caps (up to 499 employees). The facility is managed by EIF and is rolled out through financial intermediaries – banks and other financial institutions – in EU Member States and Associated Countries. Under this facility, financial intermediaries are guaranteed by the EU and EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing covered under the facility.
As a company, MCAL was delighted to attend this year’s Cantillon ‘Forum For Fresh Thinking’ hosted by IT Tralee, in association with Fexco. Neil Gibson , Chief Economist with EY, kicked off with a stimulating and engaging presentation titled, ‘Navigating through the future border(less) economic landscapes’ and brought into focus our need to make sure, as a nation, infrastructure spending is made in order to facilitate growth. Also in focus was the consideration of what our own company exposure to Brexit may be. Then a lively discussion ensued re personal and business data in focus via GDPR. What for instance, are the implications for any company where client data may be held in UK servers, under UK legislation, post-Brexit? The panel discussion with Jevan Neilan, Dr. Jerry Gallagher, Ogie Sheehy and Fexco’s Tony Sweeny covered most of the salient aspects of company responsibilities in GDPR and as one panel member remarked in terms of regulation and fines etc, ‘they really mean it this time’. Bringing GDPR into company reality, we were reminded of the burden of how our company must demonstrate compliance, at all times, what costs and protocols we need to have in place and how we have to maintain data breech records and be compliant with GDPR laws. The role of the Data Controller in every company was brought right into focus and this of course is where Regtech can help us, using new technologies to alleviate compliance burdens. Jevan Neilan delivered a sharp succinct guide to this area which was most informative and useful. The keynote address by Edel Creely, president of IBEC, gave us an insight to current thinking in IBEC, as to what areas we need to be concentrating on in a soft or perhaps hard Brexit scenario, mentioning in her address, the DEI’s ongoing study of the Skills needs for the workforce going forward. An engaging panel discussion followed, with Fexco’s Tony Sweeney giving us us food for thought in all areas of data compliance in the geographical areas Fexco currently operates in. Moira Murrell put a defined Kerry CoCo perspective on things, giving an insight to current enterprise development planning and spending, which was itself informative. Patrick Redmond from Shannon Development made interesting comments re workforce skills in the aviation sector as he found them and Stephen O’Herlihy of PFH Technology Group gave us some useful insights into how we use and indeed should be thinking of using current and future technologies.