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CONFERENCE REPORT


WORDS MAT THEW PARSONS


BREXIT: BAD NEWS AT BORDERS


Business travellers may face tougher immigration and tax checks if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead, travel managers were told at SAP Concur’s Fusion conference


IN THE EVENT OF A NO-DEAL BREXIT, stricter reporting requirements could prove “painful” for travel managers, as non-EU immigration and tax rules take effect. Speaking at the “Managing Complex Tax and Immigration Risk in Post-Brexit EU” session, Joost Smits, EMEA mobility leader and partner at EY, said the landscape was moving back to nation states, protectionism and nationalism. “If you are in the EU, going to an EU country, no one questions why you are in that country, but that will change after Brexit for UK travellers. You might need a work permit; you might be stopped at the border. “That’s a complete change in mindset. And with social security, the EU regulations fall apart. All the old treaties from the 1950s that come into play, between two countries, like protection of benefit rights, unemployment, child allowances, medical care, will go in the UK.” Claudia Kehne, director at EY, added:


“It’s easy to book a flight, go on a business trip, but there will be a lot of implications to consider: do they need a visa or a work permit? Are they a posted worker? You need to do this assessment pre-travel.”


BORDER CHECKS Governments also increasingly sharing information with each other, Smits told the audience. “It’s easy for authorities to assess when you have a tax liability, whether you need to register as a corporate worker, by looking at your job function, the times when you’ve been in those countries. Countries are focusing on compliance, and getting the money in, and stopping people at the border.” Kirk Hayes, director EMEA Platform


Partnerships, SAP Concur, added: “The risk is that if business travellers are not travelling on the right document, you could be stopped, and your company fined. In Singapore, there was a report of someone attempting to leave, but unbeknown to him, he had crossed the tax threshold, so had to file a tax return before he was allowed to leave the country.


30 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 “Imagine you’re a


travel manager, and an executive gets stopped at the border. Who do they phone? I don’t go around carrying the SAP tax person’s number in my phone, but I know who my travel people are.”


VAT CLAIM-BACKS Meanwhile, the way UK firms claim back VAT will change after Brexit, warned Gareth Kobrin, chief executive, VATGlobal and executive director at VATIT. “When you travel as a business person around Europe, the VAT you pay on your travel is recoverable. The mechanisms available to recover that VAT are split in two: either you are an EU business, or you are a non-EU business. They are fundamentally different mechanisms. For an EU business, it’s mostly electronic, which allows us to integrate with other businesses, such as SAP Concur, to get the necessary recovery information directly, so you can facilitate those reclaims and maximise your cashflow,” he said.


SAP Concur’s Fusion conference


“As a non-EU business, things are more difficult. It’s stuck in the dark ages, it’s more paper based. The deadlines are different.” Whatever the Brexit outcome at the end of October, the panel agreed tax compliance was moving into duty-of-care. Delegates were urged to reduce the cost of compliance by picking the right technology partners.


n SAP Concur’s Fusion conference took place 18-19 June at the Royal Lancaster London hotel. The event series brings together SAP Concur customers, partners and experts, and includes networking, educational sessions and training


ALL CHANGE FOR THE POSTED WORKER DIRECTIVE


After Brexit, companies can expect a renewed enforcement of the posted worker directive, according to Claudia Kehne, director at EY. When assigning employees within the EU, the directive obliges employers to comply with a “core set” of labour law provisions in the host country during the assignment period. However, with the UK becoming a non-EU country, companies will have an obligation to register business travellers doing certain types of work in that country.


“Requirements differ from country to


country, and some are manual – you need to print a PDF, and some forms will only be available in the local language,” she warned. Kirk Hayes, director EMEA Platform Partnerships, SAP Concur, asked delegates: “Have you talked about building a process around this? It seems so onerous, that some business trips will require paperwork that will be different for every single country. How do you manage that? It sounds quite painful.”


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