Post-Brexit VAT rules look tough for exporters, claims BCC

Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC. Picture: Craig Hibbert

A UK Government commitment to fully separate the country from the EU VAT regime doesn’t look pretty for the country’s exporters, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.

Adam Marshall, the organisation’s Director General, said: “This is the first view businesses have on what the VAT regime could be like after Brexit – and it doesn’t look pretty.

“A separate UK VAT system will create significant on-going costs for businesses trading across borders, unless special work-arounds are put in place. This change will pile pressure on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which is already contending with other facets of Brexit, plus the delivery of a new customs system and Making Tax Digital.

“Firms need to know – now, not in a year’s time – whether and how the Government intends to address the potential VAT bombshell facing businesses trading with the EU27 in future. Without a more generous deferment account scheme or postponed accounting, many companies face severe cash flow issues, big new administrative headaches, and a serious loss of competitiveness.”

Under the current system, firms trading with the EU report every quarter on what they have imported and exported, with a VAT bill calculated later. Without clear facilitations, the risk facing business is the need to pay VAT at the point of each cross-border transaction, creating a significant cash flow and competitiveness problem for many.

Adam added: “Businesses are hugely frustrated that politics and ideology – rather than real-world economic considerations – seem to be driving every twist and turn in the Brexit saga. For businesses, VAT isn’t some obscure technicality. A clear, easy-to-use VAT system is crucial for businesses to trade successfully with partners in Europe – and around the world.”