East Anglia companies face exposure to unpaid tax and penalties over Plastic Packaging Tax registration

  • Nearly a third of affected East Anglia mid-sized businesses have yet to register for the newly-introduced Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT).
  • One in ten regional businesses have placed sustainability as an immediate priority for the next six months.

Nearly a third of affected mid-sized businesses in East Anglia have yet to register for the newly-introduced Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT), three months since it came into force.

According to research by accountancy and business advisory firm, BDO LLP, half of those yet to register have not considered PPT, with the remainder stating that they are monitoring levels of finished plastic packaging that’s either manufactured in, or imported into the UK.

As of 1 April 2022, any company importing or manufacturing more than 10 tonnes of finished plastic packaging, where the plastic used is less than 30% recycled, must register for PPT or risk being exposed to unpaid taxes and penalties. The tax applies to packaging such as plastic drinks bottles, ready meal trays and bubble wrap.

Data released by HMRC prior to the introduction of PPT showed that six in 10 businesses (59%) reporting on plastic packaging did not know the average proportion of recycled plastic content they handled or the proportion of plastic with at least 30% of recycled plastic content. Cost was also cited as the primary factor driving the amount of recycled plastic content in products.

Phil Hall, Tax partner at BDO LLP in East Anglia, said: “Three months on from the introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax, there is still some way to go, both in terms of the number of registrations needed, and also the varying states of readiness businesses are in with respect to understanding the requirements of the new tax and the practical changes needed.

“The tax brings a heavy burden of proof from capturing exact data when it comes to record keeping requirements, to obtaining the correct information from overseas suppliers. This is proving to be a very time-consuming exercise. Given that the aim of the tax is to reduce the use of virgin plastic and to encourage recycling, businesses should also be considering whether they can switch to non-taxable packaging, whether plastic or not, with R&D tax credits available for such initiatives.”

The Rethinking the Economy survey showed that one in 10 East Anglia businesses have placed increasing the sustainability of their business as an immediate priority in the next six months, with the main driver for an increased ESG focus being greater customer demand (25%).

Hall added: “The introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax has almost certainly widened discussions about what other ‘green taxes’ should be introduced to drive the sustainability agenda in the coming years. This stretches from introducing more charging points for electric cars, to greater tax incentives to help businesses with affordability.”

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