The United Kingdom Warehousing Association is warning that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is getting tough on warehouse keepers and hauliers who may unknowingly be handling goods on which the duty has yet to be paid.
UKWA said there is growing evidence that HMRC has begun a campaign to target these storage companies and is warning that, even if the company was unaware that the duty had not been paid, if found guilty they could face financial ruin.
“HMRC is deploying more officers to investigate excise goods supply chains, said Alan Powell of Alan Powell Associates, UKWA’s honorary adviser on customs and excise matters.
“We are now increasingly seeing third party service providers, including hauliers, warehouse keepers and lessors of property, such as barns and outbuildings, being penalised by HMRC as a result of their involvement with businesses that have evaded duty on alcohol and have absconded – so called ‘missing traders’.”
Anyone found to have held or dealt in duty-unpaid excise goods can be fined up to 100 per cent of the duty evaded.
“HMRC had been slow to apply what are called ‘excise wrong-doing penalties’ but are now vigorously applying them. As a result, many small and medium companies are facing unexpected bills and penalties from HMRC of hundreds of thousands of pounds,” said Powell.
UKWA’s message is that if you offer third party logistics services, you must check what is being handled or stored and should never take storage requirements on face value.