HMRC denies losing ‘significant’ number of distillery applications

HM Revenue and Customs has denied losing “significant” portions of distillery and excise warehouse applications, after the head of the British Distiller’s Alliance (BDA) said the government body’s handling of documents is “becoming a real problem” for craft spirits companies.

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Alan Powell, founder and co-ordinator of the BDA, claims that HMRC’s teams dealing with new distillery and excise warehouse applications are either losing all the paperwork, or significant portions of it.

“About three weeks ago, some of our members brought it to my attention that their applications were being unduly hindered by claims of lost paperwork and administrative errors,” said Powell.

the drinks business has seen a number of comments from BDA members accusing HMRC of losing their application paperwork.

“I suspect this problem emanates from procedures within the central HMRC office in Glasgow. For craft distillers, this is becoming a real problem.”

He added that the number of applications notified as lost has increased significantly over the past few weeks.

“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,” said Powell.

“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.”

The British Distillers Alliance was established in July 2016 and now has over 150 members. Its central remit is to represent and promote the interests of craft and independent spirits producers and associated businesses.

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We dispute any assertion that distillery applications have been routinely lost. HMRC takes claims of lost applications very seriously, and urge any applicants who are concerned about the progress of their application to contact HMRC.”

The body advises prospective spirits businesses to submit their distillery applications at least 45 days before they plan to start production.

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