17 August 2018 by Joshua Doherty

HMRC clarifies landfill tax changes

HMRC has issued a clarification statement on the landfill tax changes it introduced in April 2018,  with the body further explaining who is responsible for the tax on disposals at unauthorised sites.

HMRC explained that the land owner, waste producer and company officer could be held responsible for the tax if waste is dumped illegally

Earlier this year, HMRC announced the changes  to landfill tax, which included an increase to £88.95 for standard rate material, as well as the introduction of the tax being applicable to unauthorised waste disposals (see letsrecycle.com story).

Now, for the unauthorised disposals, the tax body has explained that as well as the person doing the tipping, a range of other people could also be responsible.

This includes any person who “knowingly causes or facilitates” the disposal, including the waste broker or dealer involved in the deal, as well as the waste haulier involved in the transport of the waste.

HMRC also clarified that the land owner, waste producer and company officer could all be held responsible under the new regulations.

Advice

“Good business practice and record keeping will help you safeguard against getting involved with disposals at unauthorised waste sites,” HMRC explained.

It added that in order to avoid any charges, people must check that the next waste holder is authorised to take the waste as well as ensuring one gives an accurate description of the material when it’s transferred to another person.

Other suggestions include making sure that any lease or rental agreements state what the premises or land may or may not be used for.

Site visit

In order to decide who is responsible for waste, HMRC said it may visit a site, inspect records and consider “if and what extent, landowners and others involved have considered duty of care requirements”.

“HMRC will send the responsible person a tax assessment. You’ll be charged Landfill Tax at the standard rate. A penalty may also be charged, and in some instances criminal action may also be taken,” the clarification document added.

On 1 April 2018, Landfill Tax changed to include disposals at unauthorised waste sites in England and Northern Ireland. These changes, according to HMRC, aimed to support legitimate waste management businesses by creating a fairer tax system and be a deterrent to causing environmental harm by disposing of material at an unauthorised waste site.

In England and Northern Ireland, the illegal disposal tax charge will be the tax level avoided plus up to an additional penalty of 100% of the tax avoided. In Scotland the “unauthorised” rate will be 150% of the usual tax rate.

Warning

360 Environmental noted that an increase in costs for landfill and RDF has seen waste crime rise

Waste consultancy firm 360 Environmental, in the wake of the HMRC statement warned that brokers, waste producers and landowners “could all be caught up” if they cannot demonstrate that they had taken the necessary reasonable steps under S.34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The firm commented that as landfill tax has increased and the costs for alternative methods of disposal – such as Refuse Derived Fuel – have also escalated, illegal disposal has grown.

A spokesperson added that people need to be aware that they can potentially be charged if waste they dispose of gets dumped illegally at a later date.

“Many businesses and householders are unaware that regardless of whether the person removing the waste has a waste carriers licence and issued a transfer note, if the waste ends up being illegally dumped further down the line, they may be liable for prosecution if they cannot demonstrate that they had considered the disposal route beyond the carrier.”

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