HMRC accused of losing new distillery applications

The British Distillers Alliance (BDA) has alleged the HMRC teams handling new distillery and excise warehouse applications are “losing all the paperwork or significant portions of it”.

The BDA said it had received reports from members and other businesses over the last few weeks concerned that HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) had admitted losing application forms somewhere between the time they had been received and processed.

BDA represents and promotes ‘craft’ and independent spirits distillers in the UK, as well as associated businesses. Founded in 2016, BDA has more than 150 members.

Alan Powell, founder and co-ordinator of the BDA, said: “The number of applications notified as lost has doubled from a handful initially and there are other delays notified to us in HMRC failing to respond to applications within the service level agreement.

“We don’t know how many other applications have been lost; we have reported this to HMRC’s Policy units as a matter for urgent attention.

“It is possible there is immense pressure on officials due to Brexit, combined with inundation of applications from new distillers or those seeking to expand or alter already-approved sites.

“In many cases, we have given advice to members as to how to make such applications or obtain reports from HMRC on their progress.

“Since HMRC never acknowledges applications anyway, it is best practice to send hard copy applications by courier or guaranteed delivery.”

The Spirits Business has contacted HMRC for comment and is awaiting a response.

In January this year, figures released by HMRC showed the number of English distilleries had overtaken those in Scotland for the first time due to the rise in popularity of gin.

In August last year, national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young reported 39 distilleries opened in the UK in 2017 as a result of the growing demand for ‘craft’ spirits.

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Author: Melita Kiely {authorlink}