If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, from 11pm GMT on 29 March 2019 many UK businesses will need to apply the same processes to EU trade that apply when trading with the rest of the world. HMRC has now published guidance on four aspects of this. While HMRC is going as far as it can to help affected businesses, this guidance does not apply to importing or exporting goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Here's a summary of the four key areas.
Claiming EU VAT refunds
If you have incurred overseas VAT elsewhere in the EU during 2018 then you will, in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, no longer be able to submit claims for refunds via the UK portal. HMRC is urging businesses to submit these claims before 29 March 2019, rather than waiting until nearer the normal deadline of 30 September 2019. Refund claims for VAT incurred in 2019, and remaining 2018 VAT not claimed before 29 March 2019, will have to be submitted to the individual countries concerned in the same way as non-EU businesses must, and will be subject to any particular rules and conditions applying in that country.
Using the UK's VAT Mini One-Stop Shop
Businesses that are registered for UK VAT under the ‘Mini One-Stop Shop’ (MOSS) provisions and that supply digital services to private individuals based in the EU will have this MOSS registration cancelled from 1 April 2019. Affected businesses will have to re-register for MOSS in an EU member state. This must be done by 10 April 2019.
Digital services threshold
After a no-deal Brexit, UK businesses will not be able to take advantage of the £8,818 annual threshold exemption for low-level intra-EU sales of digital services. They will have to charge VAT at the rate in the EU member state where their customer is based and declare those sales there. To declare the VAT charge, a UK business can register for VAT in each EU member state where sales are made or register for the VAT MOSS non-Union scheme in an EU member state of its choice.
Checking a VAT number
If a UK business needs to make sure that a customer business is VAT-registered, from 30 March 2019 they will only be able to check UK-only VAT registration numbers on the gov.uk website. From that date, UK businesses should use the EU VAT number validation service to check the validity of EU VAT registration numbers.
Small businesses, particularly, will find all this extra red tape and the associated changes to IT systems most unwelcome.