Brexit will hit online buying hard, says Revenue chief

Online shopping deliveries from the UK will be subject to the same costs as a package from the US or Asia following Brexit, the chairman of the Revenue board, Niall Cody, has said.

Mr Cody was speaking about the effects of Brexit on cross-Border commerce at the Oireachtas Finance Committee, admitting online shopping was “going to be challenging” for shoppers and Revenue alike, and that Brexit would “change the nature” of online shopping.

He said: “If Irish shoppers are buying online from a UK-based business, it will be exactly the same as if they were buying from the US.”

He concurred with the notion that, in the absence of any agreement reached between Ireland and the UK, any online purchase by someone in Ireland for a product in the UK over €22 would result in the levying of Vat at the standard rate.

The immediate focus was on trade and the impact of a hard Brexit but online shopping and cross-border shopping would have to be dealt with, he said.

Mr Cody said traders’ lack of familiarity of customs would also be challenging.

“Our data indicates there are some 12,000 businesses in Ireland exporting to the UK, and over 60,000 importers,” he said. “In addition, an unknown number of businesses regularly move goods in transit across Northern Ireland and across the UK. Most of these businesses are unfamiliar with customs procedures.”

Europe will watch Ireland like hawks “to make sure we get Brexit right”, the director of public policy and taxation at Chartered Accountants Ireland told the committee. Brian Keegan said the introduction of customs controls between Ireland and the UK is now all but inevitable, and that European partners will insist on complete and rigorous controls over goods traded between Ireland and the UK, and further afield.

“Because the nature of the land border to be created for customs is virtually unique, Ireland will be under intense scrutiny from our EU partners to get our customs controls with the UK both watertight and legally valid,” he said.

“There are two elements to a customs union: The removal of tariffs between countries, and the creation of a common external tariff.

“Many of the potential difficulties which we will encounter post-Brexit relate to the latter — to our obligations as one of the remaining 27 EU member states to police the EU Customs Union borders. I regret to say we must now speak of these difficulties with growing certainty that they will emerge.”

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