Jon Thompson, chief executive of HMRC has been given a public drubbing by MPs for failing to tell 100,000 small businesses how to prepare for a 'no deal' Brexit.
Thompson was given a dressing down in a letter from parliament's Public Accounts Committee, which has been made public.
Committee chair Meg Hillier said she was "concerned and disappointed" about the lack of communication with small businesses from the department, and asked for an urgent update on how HMRC plans to make them aware of potential changes to how they trade.
She also criticised a further delay to HMRC's new customs declarations service, which is not likely to function properly until after Brexit.
The letter is quoted by City AM:
"I am both concerned and disappointed...you have made little progress.Hillier also accused HMRC of being underprepared for changes to how businesses would pay VAT on EU imported goods after Brexit - with bills expected to be paid quicker.
You gave us no assurance that HMRC has a plan to ensure that businesses are aware of what they will need to do.
We are particularly concerned about the 100,000 small traders that HMRC can not engage directly with, as you do not know who they are.
I would be grateful if you could write to the Committee as soon as possible with an update on the level of business understanding and preparedness for changes to customs rules and procedures in the event of no deal."
Thompson told the committee his team had only just started to work with software developers to create the new system.
WHY ONLY START NOW??????
"The potential move to postponed accounting is something that was foreseeable and it is reasonable to expect you to have been better prepared for it."An HMRC spokesperson said:
“HMRC has well-developed plans to ensure that there will be a functioning customs, VAT and excise system in the unlikely event of a no deal. We have engaged with business representative bodies who will be a key partners in reaching businesses to ensure that they understand any implications for them.
We have always said the timeline for implementing the Customs Declaration Service is tight, but that we would operate the current system (CHIEF) in tandem throughout the transition. We have made good progress to ensure that the UK has a customs system capable of handling any potential volume of customs declarations after March 2019.”
Oh, and in other news, Thompson has deleted his Twitter account.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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