We may be hurtling towards the end of the year, but there’s no sign yet of a quiet night in by the Christmas tree for the likes of Brian Madderson, and the industry’s new best friend Alan Powell, the tax expert who is described as having successfully challenged the government on a number of contentious issues.

He is currently advising independent retailers on how to apply to HMRC for fuel duty deferment under EPSS (Excise Payment Security System) which has been described as a ’silver bullet’ for boosting cashflow, thereby strengthening forecourt business, and ultimately improving the UK’s fuel supply resilience. After all why should retailers pay £30,000-worth of tax on a £50,000 tanker-load of fuel on delivery, when by law, it shouldn’t have to be paid until a month later? Step in tax supremo Alan Powell on his white steed, rousing his audience at the recent Regeneration Forum (see News Analysis ’A sense of duty’ and Industry Focus ’Sticking points’).

However, it’s not going to be as easy as it sounds. Five retailers have successfully applied, but it now seems that HMRC are trying to renege without government knowledge and agreement, according to PRA chairman Brian Madderson, who has written to Chancellor George Osborne asking for support in the matter. He wants Osborne to ensure that HMRC honour both the spirit and the letter of EPSS. He said duty deferment was a "zero cost initiative for government with significant economic and resilience benefits".

And with this month’s Autumn Statement i miind, Madderson suggested another extremely beneficial ’zero cost’ initiative would be that petrol filling sites are subject to and form part of a National Policy Statement. 

In the meantime there is the forthcoming meeting with the Treasury (see latest news) over the tax credits for vapour recovery. Which all bodes well for a very lively, and hopefully, prosperous New Year.

Season’s greetings everyone!