News in brief: UKTI; patents; EU tax

News in brief
News in brief

Inquiry launched into exports and the role of UKTI

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has launched an inquiry looking at exports and the role of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

The inquiry will examine:

• What policies are required to help meet the Government’s headline targets of £1 trillion exports and 100,000 more companies exporting by 2020? In particular, what further support should be provided to help SMEs meet their export potential?

• Is UKTI fit for purpose? Are the indicators used to measure its performance the right ones? How could UKTI be better held to account?

• What UKTI activities are most effective at increasing exports? What more could it do?

• What more can other bodies, such as the banks and UK Export Finance, do to provide financial assistance to companies seeking to export?

Commenting on the announcement, national chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses John Allan said: “The government has set ambitious targets to boost UK exports by 2020 and the FSB wants small businesses to play a key role. This Select Committee inquiry is a timely opportunity to assess what more UKTI can do to improve support for small firms, particularly ahead of any new announcements in the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

“Schemes that work such as 'Open to Export' must be protected. We would also like to see the greater powers promised for the British Business Bank (BBB) in the Government’s productivity plan delivered as soon as possible, to overcome the finance challenges facing small businesses looking to export. And crucially, the help and support needs to be available to businesses of all sizes - not just fast growth firms and digital start-ups.”

Consultation launched on the Patent Box Scheme

The government has launched a consultation on the Patent Box Scheme, which will essentially ensure the UK’s tax regimes comply with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) recommendations.

According to intellectual property firm Withers and Rogers, the consultation is a positive step as it will allow UK companies to plan their future with more certainty. Patent lawyer at Withers and Rogers Michael Jaeger said: “The government has now made its position on the Patent Box Scheme clear, which is very important for UK businesses and innovation. This should remove any doubt for companies who undertake their R&D activity in the UK, allowing them to receive the same level of tax relief on patented technologies.”

New objectives for EU tax officials

Members of the UK200Group of independent accountancy and law firms have commented on news that the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has set EU tax officials six objectives to ensure that more UK SMEs consider Europe to be their home market or have greater pan-European ambitions.

The objectives include:

• Addressing inconsistent interpretation of common definitions

• Ending the disparity in registration rules

• More effective dispute resolution

• Reducing the complexity of rules

• Simplifying the process of getting VAT back from other member states

• Tackling the complexity of compliance.

Chairman of CIOT’s indirect taxes sub-committee Peter Dylewski said: “VAT is a particular burden because it is supposed to be fully harmonised across Europe but isn’t, and this creates headaches for many owners of British SMEs.”

Head of tax at UK200Group firm Fiander Tovell LLP Andrew Jackson said: “These challenges all focus on VAT, it being the main European tax, but they apply equally well to other taxes and to domestic issues. Consistency of definitions, for example, helps in matters as varied as whether a permanent establishment exists (the OCED model treaty helps enormously here), whether a person is an employee or self-employed, and whether an item is zero-rated for VAT.”