Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has challenged an HMRC ruling that non-EEA nationals working on UK fishing boats should have to pay full UK taxes despite the fact that their visas only allow them to join and leave boats in UK ports and force them then to work outside UK waters.
Mr Carmichael commented,
“The Home Office refuses to give these workers the security of a regular visa to work in the UK, despite accepting that they are needed by the fishing industry. The Treasury now want to tax them as if they had such visas. An example of joined-up government this is not.”
“The sensible thing to do here would be to allow a reasonable number of proper visas allowing non-EEA nationals to work on UK boats for a limited period of time. They would then obviously pay their taxes like everyone else and have all the protections that are given to all other British workers.”
“Instead they are given the so-called “transit visas” which mean they can only come to the UK to join boats than then spend their time working in international waters. It is a messy compromise that works properly for no one.”
“Now HMRC have decided to stick their oar in and are demanding full income tax payment as if they were working in the UK. Worse than that, they letter I have from HMRC makes it clear that if the industry resists this approach then they can expect tax inspections going back possibly twenty years. As a negotiating technique it is straight out of the Mafia playbook. As they say in “The Godfather”, it is an offer you can’t refuse.