Customs upholds U-turn

Customs upholds U-turn

Customs & Excise’s embattled VAT policy head, Martin Brown, has launched a vigorous defence of his decision to suspend and then continue overpaid tax refunds under the controversial three-year rule.

His suspension of repayments soon after the 15 August meeting was the latest move by Customs to draw flak since the new limit was introduced on 18 July without consultation.

Counsel advised Brown that Customs could continue paying refunds up to three years, leading to the month-long directive’s reversal last week.

Brown denied Customs had lost credibility with taxpayers because of the refund freeze. ‘We are trying to protect the taxpayer. A lot of businesses and accountancy firms do not like it, but it is our job to enforce this and we have chosen to do it this way.’

Tax lawyer Clare Mainprice said: ‘Customs is smarting over this. I don’t think they ever wanted to have the three-year rule.

It was forced on them by the Government.’

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