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CIOT concerned at ‘hasty redraft’ of customs code

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The CIOT has weighed into the argument over the government’s approach to post-Brexit customs and VAT legislation in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill. The Institute believes the government’s apparent intention to completely redraft the Union customs code, rather than simply incorporate existing EU law into UK law on leaving the EU, will create unnecessary uncertainty for business.

Alan McLintock, chair of CIOT’s indirect taxes sub-committee, sees this approach being ‘at odds’ with the government’s stated aim of ensuring the body of EU law applies in the UK immediately after Brexit in the same way as it did before, as with the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Instead, the Bill will give ministers ‘unprecedented power’ to set customs rules and rates through regulations, ‘with very limited opportunity for scrutiny’.

‘The powers being created by the Bill and delegated to Ministers are extraordinary and of deep concern to us’, McLintock commented.

These views are set out in the CIOT’s submission (see to the public bill committee on the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, echoing the concerns expressed last week in the report of the Lords delegated powers and regulatory reform committee.

These reservations are shared by Steven Porter, partner at Pinsent Masons, who commented: ‘in trying to keep open all options, depending upon the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, this bill does nothing to reduce the uncertainties for business’. Giving the government such wide-ranging powers with no longstop date is ‘very worrying’, Porter said.

The Public Bill Committee will finish debating the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill this week (see

The European Commission has published a ‘notice to stakeholders’ (see setting out the position for customs and indirect taxes including VAT that will exist at the point of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, subject to any transitional arrangements yet to be agreed.