Moving humanitarian aid to Ukraine will now be easier, thanks to new steps announced by the UK Government.
Help for organisations sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine
The Government strongly recommends organisations and people, who would like to help, donate cash through the Disasters and Emergencies Committee (DEC) campaign or other trusted charities, rather than donating goods. Cash can be transferred quickly to affected areas, and individuals and aid organisations can use it to buy what’s most needed. The Government has offered to match-fund donations to the DEC campaign up to £25m.
The UK has already committed £220 million of humanitarian assistance, which will be used to save lives, and protect vulnerable people in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. This support is in addition to a £174 million economic package for Ukraine, taking the UK’s overall support for Ukraine during the current crisis to almost £400 million.
The Government recognises many individuals and organisations have already worked hard within their communities to collect aid and wish to see those donations reach those in need as quickly as possible. In order to ensure organisations can send humanitarian aid more easily, we have removed the requirement to complete customs paperwork.
Regulations laid before the House of Commons yesterday mean organisations moving goods designated as humanitarian aid from the UK to support those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine no longer need to complete electronic customs declarations. Instead, they will only be required to make an oral or by conduct declaration and will not be required to supply any customs documentation. Some larger vehicles (such as HGVs and those over 3.5 tonnes) will still be required to use the Goods Vehicle Movement Service to move humanitarian aid between Great Britain and the EU to support those affected by events in Ukraine.
Guidance on goods that are eligible for this new, simplified process is now available. Some goods are excluded from this easement. For example medicines are not included to ensure they are obtained from the UK licenced supply chain for patient safety reasons. Food, however, is eligible for the easement.
Organisations are welcome to contact the Export Support Service (ESS) on 0300 303 8955 with questions relating to the situation in Ukraine and Russia. The helpline is available every day from 8am to 10pm. They can also contact our online support team.
HMRC’s Customs & International Trade Helpline advisers are also available Monday to Friday 8am to 10pm, and 8am to 4pm at weekends, to help with questions about exporting, importing and the Goods Vehicle Movement Service. You can contact them on 0300 322 9434.
Set up Self Assessment payment plans by 1 April
More than one million customers took advantage of the extra time to complete their Self Assessment. HMRC has given customers until 1 April to pay their outstanding tax bill or set up a Time to Pay arrangement to avoid receiving a late payment penalty.
Time to Pay allows those who need it the option to spread their tax payments over time. Self Assessment taxpayers with up to £30,000 of tax debt can do this online once they have filed their return.
If customers owe more than £30,000 or need longer to pay, they should call the Self Assessment Payment Helpline on 0300 200 3822.
Electronic sales suspension
HMRC’s new powers and penalties to tackle the form of tax evasion known as electronic sales suppression (ESS) have come into effect.
ESS is where a business manipulates electronic sales records to hide or reduce the value of individual transactions. This reduces the recorded turnover of the business and its tax liabilities, while providing an apparently credible and compliant audit trail.
The new powers aim to ensure people pay the right amount of tax and level the playing field for compliant businesses by tackling the possession, making, supply and promotion of ESS tools (ESS software and hardware). The penalty is a fine of up to £50,000. There are also new ESS-specific information powers. These powers allow HMRC to obtain details of those involved in the supply chain of ESS tools and to understand more about the tools.
Safeguards for taxpayers include giving businesses a 30-day grace period to remove the software to avoid a penalty and the right to appeal against any penalties.
David Nunn is Content Manager at AAT.