SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has said that in terms of the new corporation tax environment there is a case for asking HMRC to revise its plans to essentially foreclose on three tax offices in border areas – Newry, Enniskillen and Foyle House in Derry.
Mr Durkan, who is a member of the Westminster committee which is scrutinising the Corporation Tax (Northern Ireland) Bill as it progresses through parliament, said:
“It is clear in terms of the new corporation tax that there will be careful monitoring of what happens and of how companies adapt. There will be a measured consideration of behavioural impacts and any consequential adjustments that need to be made, but I am not sure that that can all be done from the remote assumed sophistication of some HMRC offices in Britain.
“HMRC’s move to remove more of the capacity on the ground in Northern Ireland will hamper some of that monitoring. The local tax officers are in a better position to know what is going on, how things are being done and to make an assessment.
“I say this based on experience of the terrible treatment that people have had from HMRC. Cross-border workers have had an absolute nightmare with tax credits, precisely because there is no local tax office that they can turn to anywhere in the North. Firms operating on a cross-border basis are having huge difficulties with their declarations and their attempts to reclaim money paid in tax in the South. They are having huge difficulty with some of the arrangements, and they are dealing with an office in Liverpool, which keeps saying, ‘No, we lost that’ or ‘We have not got it.’
“From everyone’s point of view, it would be better if we have a new differential regime in Northern Ireland.
The more there can be a local accent to how the system works, the better that is for everybody. HMRC would not lose anything by that – because this would be different from other interjurisdictional issues – and HMRC would be on both sides of what was happening.
“There is therefore a case for asking HMRC to revise its plans to essentially foreclose on the three tax offices in border areas – Newry, Enniskillen and Foyle House in Derry.”