back to article UK taxman told to go easy on transformation with Brexit in headlights

The UK government's spending watchdog has warned HMRC is biting off more than it can chew by undergoing major transformational projects while simultaneously coping with the fallout of Brexit. HMRC's transformation programme is not as "deliverable" as planned due to unrealistic assumptions and increased pressure from the …

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Could be handy...

"What do you mean, I haven't paid any tax for the last five years? Of course I have. Don't tell me your computer's lost the records again?"

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> ... HMRC is biting off more ...

Yes, it does that to people all the time.

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Any companies or people still capable of paying taxes after Brexit are going to be paying them in another country.

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I'd planned to offshore all my finances to Lichtenstein until I realised that I didn't know how to spell it.

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Whither Aspire?

Is Aspire still a thing? After the various contract novations, in-housings and assorted jiggery-pokery I'd have thought that there wasn't enough left of the Aspire contract left to line a budgie cage.

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Devil

So

The HMRC thinks brexit will be hard on them but not so hard as to undertake projects unlikely to succeed at the same time. Do they also sing while drinking water?

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Re: So

Strange you should mention that. The HMRC's Psalmodical Imbibition Transformation Project has been underway for several years and reportedly is making good progress.

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Hard for them ?

but they don't seem to worry if they make things hard for us, like their Making Tax Difficult initiative where everyone has to use an accounts package to submit tax information. Most individuals and some small businesses (eg window cleaners) have no need for something complicated like accounts programs but may be forced to buy one. The biggest cost will be the time taken to enter details at the level that the tax man wants - which looks likely to be much more detailed than is actually useful for the individual or small business.

But HMRC does not pay for the time that we work on their behalf - so why not require something which comes at no cost (to them).

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Re: Hard for them ?

There's been a lot of confusion and misinformation* over the whole Making Tax Digital farce - including some from HMRC themselves, where some people in the organisation have a different understanding of what it is or is not to others.

I did notice in the report this article is about, though, that where it makes reference to Making Tax DIgital for Businesses, it suggests it will be for those businesses that have a turnover over the VAT threshold.

* Although I think the worst misinformation came from cloudy crud companies, some of whom kept pushing the notion that MTD meant companies had to use cloudy accounts rubbish.

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J P

Re: Hard for them ?

In fairness to the "cloudy crud companies" it was only in December that HMRC released the VAT regs which definitively removed the absolute requirement to use "cloudy accounts rubbish" rather than a good old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet, which can then be emailed/posted on a USB stick to a tax agent for submission via API enabled software.

MTDfB is mandatory for VAT submissions only for businesses who are trading above the VAT threshold from April 2019; no formal decision has yet been made on whether MTDfB for Income Tax will be mandated, which won't be before April 2020, and MTDfB for Corporation Tax is still but a twinkle in the draftsman's eye. (We've got full detailed IT regs, and have had for rather longer than the VAT ones, because IT was supposed to be compulsory from April 2018 until they postponed it).

If you're that way inclined, the consultation on the VAT regs is open until 9 Feb; docs at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-legislation-the-value-added-tax-amendment-regulations-2018

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Ms Hillier may have been right yesterday ...

... but today we read that GDS are recruiting a Deputy Director, EU Exit: "... you’ll develop the insight and networks needed for the UK to successfully leave the European Union ...".

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Re: Ms Hillier may have been right yesterday ...

"... you’ll develop the insight and networks needed for the UK to successfully leave the European Union ..."

What typical insight and networks will they need? Skimming the Daily Heil and stamping their foot?

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Don't forget the impact of the decision to move to regional offices. A lot of existing sites are closing and from my (admittedly brief) stint with HMRC I believe a far higher percentage of employees wont move than is being acknowledged. Losing a big chunk of existing staff and replacing with new hires along with the disruption the moves cause for those who are staying seems insane at the same time as the other challenges they face.

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Unhappy

"major transformational projects while simultaneously coping with the fallout of Brexit."

Brexit is a "major transformational project"

Wheather it will "transform" the UK into a free market utopia or crony capitalist s**thole is unknown. But

<gollum>

We wants it

We needs it

We must have hard Brexit.

</gollum>

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Meh

Only one answer

Take early retirement, then move out into the sticks and start helping the local farmers etc. You'll quickly get into the swing of the 'alternative' economy and if you can defeat some of the John Derre lock-in crap you'll have free food and friends for life!

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Len
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Meh

Re: Only one answer

If there are still any serious farmers left after Michael Gove is finished "turning Brexit into an opportunity for farmers".

Or did you mean subsistence farming?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Only one answer

"If there are still any serious farmers left after Michael Gove is finished "turning Brexit into an opportunity for farmers"."

Interpreting Gove's pronouncements should keep BREXIT farmers bemused. What they expect is effectively a continuation of EU level subsidies to make farming somewhere near profitable.

What Gove seems to be saying that the subsidies to produce food will be reduced in favour of undefined levels of grants to leave land fallow for "nature". Which could be newspeak for "we want to import food that has been produced on a scale that may include less regard for animal welfare, health safety, or the environment".

The EU schemes subsidised both food production and maintenance of land for "nature".

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Unhappy

If there are still any serious farmers left

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board actually did an impact assessment of Brexit on British agri & horti culture (because, y'know unlike David Davis they though having some idea WTF was going to happen might be quite useful) and estimated that worst case the most efficient 25% of all British farms would continue to be profitable.

Of course the other 75% of UK farms would be f**ked. Interestingly under all scenarios considered the "Barley Barons" do less well than most other kinds of crops and worst case "Hard Brexit" farm income goes negative. Pig farmers and potato processors incomes rises under all scenarios. But the across the board farm income drops unless the most favorable, most generous EU terms scenario happens.

Looks like Bacon and ready cut chips are going to the keys to the future British diet.

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Re: If there are still any serious farmers left

My question would be, if three quarters of British farms are financially untenable, who is paying for them?

I get the feeling it isn't the Greeks. Being part of a superstate doesn't make wealth magically appear from nowhere. Someone is paying for it and it if isn't us, then the continentals should be glad to see the back of us.

If we aren't paying for our food, do we really have a right to eat it?

My guess is that to keep things the same, we'd need to keep paying the same subsidies.These might be more difficult to hide when its all in the UK budget. Ideally, we'd see lower taxes and higher food prices, because it is generally better to reflect reality than obscure it. However, there are always profiteers from change.

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Len
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Unhappy

Re: Only one answer

I think it's far more cynical than a ploy to import more food at the expense of British food producers.

The fallow land policy is the one that sees a bunch of millionaire land owners in the Brexit camp (James Dyson, Paul Dacre etc.) being paid out enormous amounts of EU subsidies. Buy a few dozen hectares of land, do not use it for farming but rather let nature take its course and apply for EU subsidies which stimulate natural development. You now a) own a lot of land and b) the EU puts €1 million+ a year in your bank account.

British farmers currently receive just over £3 billion pounds a year from the EU. The UK Government obviously doesn't want to spend the same amount of money on farmers post-Brexit so Gove has turned all "green" and advocates a policy of rewarding people for letting nature take its course on their land. That means that people who use their land for farming will lose their subsidies but the likes of Dyson and Dacre will still be paid by the taxpayer for their land.

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My question would be, if three quarters of British farms are financially untenable,

They are not.

There are 2 parts to this.

How good a price are they getting and how much support do they get to make their products.

Part of that process is the fact that (at present) the UK is inside the "tariff wall" around Europe. So if UK prices are competitive with the rest of the EU they will sell into the EU.

Put them on the outside of the tariff wall and then cut their support and hey presto they're uneconomic. Likewise "less favored" and lowland beef and sheep are partly supported because the UK likes the countryside a certain way. And of course UK livestock care standards are very high. That is not EU legislation, that's UK legislation, so Brexit won't mean "Stuff em in the veal crates. The good 'ol days are back." :-)

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Re: My question would be, if three quarters of British farms are financially untenable,

@ John Smith 19

"Part of that process is the fact that (at present) the UK is inside the "tariff wall" around Europe. So if UK prices are competitive with the rest of the EU they will sell into the EU.

Put them on the outside of the tariff wall and then cut their support and hey presto they're uneconomic."

Aka protectionist. Aka it is uneconomic. Aka costs far more than its value. This is why one of the arguments to leave is the price of food will fall because it is kept over inflated by being in the cartel using subsidies and tariffs.

Everyone needs to eat so it would benefit the poor and everyone else as a stimulus to the economy (people will effectively have a pay rise as their expenses fall). It would also mean we wouldnt have to keep out food from those pesky coloured people in those poor countries where they are dying if they cant work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My question would be, if three quarters of British farms are financially untenable,

"It would also mean we wouldnt have to keep out food from those pesky coloured people in those poor countries where they are dying if they cant work."

You mean those countries where:

Carcinogenic sudan red dye has been used to make chillies more attractive.

Fruits are coated in a toxic calcium carbide to make them ripen.

Toxic melamine added to milk products to make them appear to have a higher protein content.

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Re: My question would be, if three quarters of British farms are financially untenable,

@AC

"You mean those countries where:"

Oh god then I hope you never bought any clothing or IT gear from the poor countries who make much of them. Or go to the hospital as they buy from poorer countries who produce varying qualities of scalpel for surgery. Oh god nooooo how do we cope in this world outside the EU's borders of quality control and unicorn farts? Oh yeah its quality control. And we do it for a great deal of what we get regardless of where it is from.

Even while in the EU we have had a few issues of contamination, but we know of these issues due to... quality control.

Dont fear the world AC. Embrace it. There is a lot of it and we cant just hide away because of some scare stories.

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Yes we are governed by cretins and the state is administered by highly educated cretins. We must like it as it is otherwise we wouldn't put up with it, would we?

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