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New “tax” registration checks proposed for taxi and private hire industry

The Government is set to announce legislation that will require tax registration checks to be undertaken on all taxi and private hire licence holders.

In 2017 the HMRC consulted on measures to tackling tax evasion in the “hidden economy” with particular reference to public sector licensing which included taxi and private hire licensing. The term hidden economy refers to individuals and businesses with sources of taxable economic activity that are entirely hidden from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

In the budget announcement on 29 November, the Government announced: Following the consultation ‘Tackling the hidden economy: public sector licensing’ published in December 2017, the government will consider legislating at Finance Bill 2019 to introduce a tax registration check linked to licence renewal processes for some public sector licences. 

Applicants would need to provide proof they were correctly registered for tax in order to be granted licenses. This would make it more difficult to trade in the hidden economy, levelling the playing field for compliant businesses.

The details of how this may work in practice are yet to be announced however it is likely to involve:

  • New applicants for a taxi/PH licence will be signposted towards tax obligations and HMRC services to ensure that they understand their taxable status and are able to register as soon as possible after they begin trading.

  • Checks will be undertaken on those renewing licences to confirm and provide evidence of their tax-registration status.

  • New “fit and proper” criteria may include an assessment of an applicant’s financial integrity.

The HMRC is due to publish its Summary of Responses on the 7th November that is expected to include a commitment to use the Finance Bill to push through the legislative changes required to implement the tax status checks. 

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