The most significant new element in the Brexit Omnibus Bill published by the Government this morning is a change to VAT law which will allow companies importing from the UK to continue to pay VAT in the same way they do now.
This change will be of considerable benefit to the many Small and Medium Enterprises that trade with the UK.
Under existing laws, when the UK leaves the European Union, VAT would have to paid by importers as soon as the import lands in Ireland.
Under the changes announced today, traders would continue to make VAT returns every two months.
The potential cash flow implications of not making this change were very serious for SMEs in particular.
The VAT measure is part of a considerable number of changes to Irish tax law contained in the bill.
In the 11-page explanatory memorandum accompanying the bill, four pages are given over to tax legislation – by far the biggest amount of changes.
The change to the tax laws follow the same principle as all the other changes are by the bill – to provide for continuity of existing legal arrangements.
The changes cover laws that mention countries of the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) and effectively add the UK to that list.
The Government intends to have the legislation ready to be signed into law by the President on 29 March – should it be needed.
It hopes the UK will ratify the EU Withdrawal Agreement, which will render virtually all of this emergency legislation unnecessary.
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