HMRC have announced that they are to issue temporary AWRS approval for businesses who have had their Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) registration revoked or rejected. They can now apply for temporary relief. This allows trade to continue while the outcome of a review or appeal is pending.
Rejection or revocation under the AWRS
Alcohol wholesalers must be approved under the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS). Applications are made to HMRC. Approval is only granted if the business is considered fit and proper to carry on a controlled activity. If a business does not meet the ‘fit and proper’ test, then the application will be rejected.
Even if an application is successful, approval can be revoked by HMRC at any point. This might happen if HMRC has reasonable cause to believe that a business has been involved in fraudulent activity, or has not fulfilled its due diligence requirements.
AWRS reviews and appeals
If your AWRS approval has been rejected or revoked, then there is action you can take. The first step is to request a review. This must be done within 30 days of HMRC’s decision letter. If the decision is upheld, then the next step is to take an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. Again, this has a 30 day deadline, starting from the date of HMRC’s review letter.
Temporary approval for the AWRS
HMRC Announces Temporary AWRS Approval. This allows your business to continue trading during the review or appeal process. You can apply for this now. This is a new innovation included under the Finance Act 2021, which received Royal Assent on 10 June 2021. Guidance has now been published by HMRC outlining who is eligible under the scheme.
This is good news for businesses who have had their AWRS approval rejected or revoked. Previously, it was not possible to trade until the review/appeal process had overturned HMRC’s original decision. This was deemed unfair, as the review and appeal process can take many months to conclude. Many businesses were forced to close, finding it was not financially viable to remain open during the interim period. This was particularly galling for businesses who had a strong prospect of success at review or appeal.
Getting temporary approval for the AWRS
You can apply for temporary approval if HMRC has rejected or revoked your approval, and you have asked for a review or made an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. In order to qualify, you must provide evidence that the business will not survive. This includes an independent financial report that shows the business will not remain viable through the review or appeal process, unless temporary approval is granted. You must also show that you have made a review or an appeal, and your grounds for doing so.
Applications must be made within 30 workings days of receiving a refusal or revocation letter. It is important to gather the necessary evidence before applying, or it will cause unnecessary delays. So long as you provide the correct information, HMRC says it aims to make a decision within 30 working days.
Ask our solicitors for help
If your AWRS approval has been rejected or revoked, contact our solicitors for help. We can guide you through the review and appeal process, and apply for temporary AWRS approval on your behalf. This will be a reprieve for your business, allowing it to trade until the AWRS review/appeal has been finalised.
Altion Law are specialists at advising and representing parties in all HMRC matters. If you would like to have a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please either complete an Online Enquiry or call us on 01908 414990 and we will be pleased to help you.