Leading environmental compliance specialists Ecoveritas today urged businesses to take head of HMRC's move to penalise non-compliant businesses regarding the Plastic Packaging Tax but says any future changes to its modus operandi must not solely be about boosting the Treasury's coffers.
The Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT), introduced last April, requires producers to pay a levy on plastic products that contain less than 30% recycled content.
Significant changes were made to the PPT last month, with the rate rising to £210.82 per tonne in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 1 April 2023, and statements on invoices will no longer be a legal requirement.
The government is implementing technical changes to PPT penalties via the Finance Bill.
Head of Sustainability & Consulting at Ecoveritas, Kathy Illingworth, said: "This is a significant shot across the bow from HMRC, who are keen to emphasise that falling short of the expectations will prove expensive to business.
"The changes will ensure that the tax operates as intended and that taxpayers are treated fairly and consistently. The hope is that it will also simplify the late payment penalty regime for PPT and apply to all late payments concerning accounting periods from 1 April 2023 onwards.
"But we'd urge those stewarding the tax to keep sight of what is good for the industry and the planet – not just boosting the government's coffers."
HMRC estimated that around 20,000 manufacturers and importers would need to register for the tax, yet fewer than 4,000 have. Despite this, the Treasury has already collected £206 million, which represents 73% of last year's £300 million revenue forecast.
"With less than one in five eligible firms paying the tax in 2022, there is still a significant amount of work to be done to understand that eligibility," added Illingworth.
"It's clear that HMRC will not only be penalising companies that are not compliant but are also planning to penalise businesses that are late with returns and those that submit inaccurate information.
"Our message would be to give this the appropriate level of focus, and we will work closely with our clients to ensure they are across all the latest developments. These penalties shouldn't be taken lightly, and the latest guidance outlines the serious consequences for failing to register when you should!"
If you manufactured or imported 10 tonnes or more of plastic packaging in the last 12 months or expect to in the next 30 days, you must register for Plastic Packaging Tax.