The 1972 Brussels Act has been repealed

If you doubted the resolve of our government regarding the implementation of the 2016 referendum the following announcement may clarify matters.

The Government has signed into law legislation to repeal the Act of Parliament which set in stone Britain’s EU (EEC) membership in 1972. The 1972 Act is the vehicle that sees regulations flow into UK law directly from the EU’s law making bodies in Brussels.

The announcement of the Act’s repeal marks a historic step in returning law making powers from Brussels to the UK.

The repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 will take effect when Britain formally leaves the EU on October 31.

As we have indicated in previous posts, there is growing evidence that a no-deal Brexit is on the cards. Even if this proves to be incorrect, we all need to consider how are lives may be changed.

  • Business owners will have to adjust to the changed relationship with the EU: tariffs, VAT charges, transport complications, delay at ports of entry and so on. Google “EORI” now and apply for the number.
  • Travellers to the UK will no longer be recognised as EU citizens – check your passport.
  • UK citizens resident in the EU may face changes to their access to local healthcare, and the payment of taxation and National Insurance liabilities in their country of residence and possibly the UK.

The government have issued a fairly robust list of the issues that we will have to deal with, visit their information page:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal

The repeal of the 1972 Brussels Act is just one of the many legislative changes that will need to take place from 31 October 2019, unless we manage to agree a formal withdrawal agreement or extend the present deadline.

Be prepared. Our posts as we approach the present deadline can be considered a Brexit weather forecast – if you need a raincoat, hopefully, you will be advised…

Preparing for a no-deal Brexit

Whatever your opinion on the “leave/remain” debate there is now sufficient momentum in our new government to engineer the UK’s exit from the EU 31 October 2019, come what may.

As the EU seems reluctant to consider any change to its draft withdrawal agreement, the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit is becoming a real possibility.

But I don’t have customers or suppliers in the EU, so I don’t need to worry

Many of us do not have direct dealings with businesses in the EU. However, you will not have to drill down too far into your customer and suppliers’ supply chains to find firms that are dependent on imports from or exports to the EU to some extent. This being so, any delays or price increases in these movements of goods will trickle down and affect our businesses.

Accordingly, we are all going to be affected…

OK, but what can we do? October is just a few weeks away

It’s been announced that the government is investing a considerable sum in no-deal Brexit advice. The information, when it becomes available, will likely be complex and self-defeating as it will take an age to unravel and apply – this is certainly the case with previous information published by HMRC on this topic.

However, there are three key steps that we should all undertake NOW. They are:

1 Supply issues:

Survey your major customers and suppliers and identify those who expect a no-deal Brexit to disrupt their supply lines.

2 Pricing issues:

Identify suppliers who expect that a no-deal Brexit will increase their costs and their price lists. Survey your customers to see if their demand for your products or services will be affected by a no-deal Brexit.

3 Planning

When you have the data from 1 and 2 above create a formal business plan and if necessary, agree additional funding requirements with your shareholders or banks.

 Additionally, you should consider:

 Applying for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

Post Brexit, and particularly, after a no-deal Brexit, without this number HMRC will be unable to clear your goods through customs, leading to delays and possible additional storage costs. You can apply online and there are no registration costs. We should all apply as the process only takes a few days. You can register even if you subsequently don’t use the number.

 Also, if your business is reliant on grants from the EU, research replacement UK grants and apply ASAP.

The farming community, not for profit organisations and educational establishments will be particularly affected. Don’t let no-funding be an outcome of no-deal.

And finally,

Check your family passports

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, new rules will apply. If you have an UK passport, you will need to have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.

We can help

If you have concerns that you are going to be adversely affected by a no-deal Brexit, but you are unsure how to plan and counter these issues, please call. We can help.

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Don’t sit on the fence

These few steps are the minimum you should consider, and as we have already stressed, we are all going to be affected by a no-deal outcome.

Waiting for the 31 October to come and go in order to judge the effects on our businesses is rather like betting on a blind hand in poker, look at your cards now, assess the risks of a no-deal Brexit and plan accordingly.

Driving and staying in the EU after 31 October 2019

If, as our new government intends, we leave the EU after 31 October 2019, with or without a deal, what changes will drivers and travellers from the UK be likely to face when they cross the channel after this date?

Bus and coach drivers

According to the latest updates on the Gov.uk website bus and coach drivers will need to consider the following:

• You may need an international driving permit (IDP) if you drive in certain EU countries. You can get an IDP at the Post Office (Present cost is £5.50; you need to be a GB or Northern Ireland resident and be 18 or over).

• Drivers will still need a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification and maintain their periodic training obligations to drive in the UK. Note: the EU will not recognise the UK CPC qualifications after Brexit.

• To work for an EU company after Brexit consider exchanging your UK Driver CPC for an EU Driver CPC.

The above points are just a sample of the possible issues that drivers and coach companies will need to consider. We recommend that affected companies undertake a thorough risk assessment to make sure that red-tape does not interfere with their scheduled journeys to the EU after the 31 October deadline.

Insurance and road accidents

A ‘green card’ is proof you have motor insurance cover when driving abroad. You will need to carry one for the vehicle you are driving if there is a no-deal Brexit.

You will need to carry multiple green cards if:

• your vehicle is towing a trailer – you will need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer (you need separate trailer insurance in some countries)

• you have 2 policies covering the duration of your trip, for example, if your policy renews during the journey.

If you are involved in a road accident you may need to bring need to bring legal proceedings in the EU or EEA country against either the responsible driver or the insurer of the vehicle if there’s a no-deal Brexit. At the moment you can make a claim via a UK-based claims representative or the UK Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).

You might not get compensation if the accident is caused by an uninsured driver or the driver cannot be traced. This will vary from country to country.

Health care

If you presently have a European Health Card (EHIC) this may not be valid if there is a no deal Brexit. Accordingly, additional travel insurance may be required.

VISAs

According to the European Commission proposals, you will not need a VISA for short trips after Brexit. This means you can stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. You may need a VISA for longer periods or to work or study in the EU.

Enhanced redundancy cover for parents

The present legal protections against redundancy is to be extended by six months for new mothers returning to work. Parents returning from adoption and shared parental leave will also be protected.

The move comes in response to a government consultation which found that new parents continue to face unfair discrimination. Research estimates that up to 54,000 women a year felt they had to leave their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity discrimination.

Employers should note that pregnancy and maternity discrimination is illegal, and those on maternity leave have special protection in a redundancy situation. The reforms recently announced will, for the first-time, extend the redundancy protection for six months from the date of a mother’s return to work as well as covering those taking adoption or shared parental leave. This will help ensure new parents are protected from discrimination in the workplace, regardless of gender and circumstance.

Today’s announcement follows a raft of recent measures designed to support working parents, as part of the government Good Work Plan. These include proposed new leave entitlements for parents of sick and premature babies and proposed new measures to ensure large businesses are more transparent on their policies for parental leave and pay and flexible working.

Research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), found that one in nine women said they had been fired or made redundant when they returned to work after having a child, or were treated so badly they felt forced out of their job.

This change goes further than current EU requirements on maternity entitlements and parental leave.

According to government sources, the aim of this change in redundancy protection is for UK businesses to embrace flexible working and gender equality as this will make it easier for mothers and fathers to return to work and progress in their careers after parental leave.

Tax Diary August/September 2019

1 August 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 October 2018.

19 August 2019 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 August 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 August 2019)

19 August 2019 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 August 2019.

19 August 2019 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 August 2019 is payable by today.

1 September 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 30 November 2018.

19 September 2019 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 September 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 September 2019)

19 September 2019 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 September 2019.

19 September 2019 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 September 2019 is payable by today.

Low paid workers to qualify for sick-pay

The government has started a consultation to transform support for sick and disabled staff and remove barriers for employees.

The Department for Work and Pensions has recently set out new measures to transform how employers support and retain disabled staff and those with a health condition.

Under the new measures the lowest paid employees would be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for the first time, while small businesses may be offered a sick pay rebate to reward those who effectively manage employees on sick leave and help them get back to work.

Under current legislation, to be eligible to receive SSP you must:

  • be classed as an employee and have undertaken work for your employer,
  • have been ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days),
  • earn an average of at least £118 per week, and
  • tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline – or within 7 days if they do not have one.

Each year more than 100,000 people leave their job following a period of sickness absence lasting at least 4 weeks, and the longer someone is on sickness absence the more likely they are to fall out of work, with 44% of people who had been off sick for a year leaving employment altogether.

New homes to have car charge-points

In a bid to accommodate yet more electric vehicles on our roads, the government has launched a consultation aimed at increasing the number of homes with electric car charge-points. In a recent press release they said:

“All new-build homes could soon be fitted with an electric car charge-point, the government has outlined today (15 July 2019) in a public consultation on changing building regulations in England. The consultation comes alongside a package of announcements to support electric vehicle drivers and improve the experience of charging.

The proposals aim to support and encourage the growing uptake of electric vehicles within the UK by ensuring that all new homes with a dedicated car parking space are built with an electric charge-point, making charging easier, cheaper and more convenient for drivers.

The legislation would be a world first and complements wider investment and measures the government has put in place to ensure the UK has one of the best electric vehicle infrastructure networks in the world – as part of the £1.5 billion Road to Zero Strategy.

The government has also set out today that it wants to see all newly installed rapid and higher powered charge-points provide debit or credit card payment by Spring 2020.”

The government has already taken steps to ensure that existing homes are electric vehicle ready by providing up to £500 off the costs of installing a charge point at home.

Internet giants face tax-hike

It has been confirmed that from April 2020, the government will introduce a new 2% Digital Services Tax (DST) on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users.

This is an attempt to tax, in the UK, revenues earned by these social media platforms from customers resident in the UK. At present, significant profits are being earned in the UK but transferred off-shore thus avoiding UK taxation.

In the notes confirming that these changes would be included in the Finance Bill 2019, HMRC said:

The revenues from the business activity – subject to DST – will include any revenue earned by the group, which is connected to the business activity, irrespective of how the business monetises the platform. If revenues are attributable to the business activity and another activity, the business will need to apportion the revenue to each activity on a just and reasonable basis.

A UK user is a user that is normally located in the UK.

The Digital Services Tax will apply to businesses that provide a social media platform, search engine or an online marketplace to UK users. These businesses will be liable to Digital Services Tax when the group’s worldwide revenues from these digital activities are more than £500m and more than £25m of these revenues are derived from UK users.

Changes to private residence relief

If you rent out all or part of your home this may create a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) charge when you sell the property.

Presently, HMRC excludes the last 18 months of your ownership – even if the property is let for this time – when assessing any CGT liability. In a draft of the Finance Bill released last month, HMRC have confirmed that this 18 month period will be reduced to 9 months from April 2020.

The exemption for disabled property owners or those in a care home will continue to be 36 months.

The draft Finance Bill also confirms a change to the letting relief rules.

Letting relief is an extra deduction you can make from any CGT payable as a result of letting your home. You can claim the lowest of the following three amounts:

  1. The same amount that you can claim as private residence relief.
  2. £40,000.
  3. The same amount as the chargeable gain you made from letting your home.

From April 2020, you will only be able to claim this letting relief if you are in shared occupancy with the tenant.

Property owners contemplating the disposal of their home – which is or has been let for any period – may be advised to complete their sale before April 2020. In this way they will benefit from the 18 month exemption and the more flexible lettings relief.