Campaigners take Loan Charge campaign to MPs’ constituencies
Today, 20 March 2019, campaigners are taking the #STOPtheLoanCharge #SaveLives message to their MP constituencies across London and the South East.
The campaigners, who represent tens-of-thousands of UK workers facing bankruptcy and loss of livelihood as a result of the retrospective Loan Charge tax, have delivered personal letters pleading with their MPs to agree to support a delay in the legislation until a proper assessment of its full impact has been conducted.
The letter requests that ‘the House of Commons urges the Government to postpone the Loan Charge for a period sufficient for the Loan Charge legislation to be revisited in the light of new information’ and specifically must ‘only fall due on those who actually benefited from the arrangements in question, not any individuals who may have entered into the arrangements in good faith.’
The new information referred to in the letter relates to the reports of severe mental health problems experienced by many workers now being pursued by HMRC including several directly related suicides; it also refers to HMRC’s inability to meet their own deadlines, leaving vulnerable people in the lurch facing life destroying bills with no communication.
MPs whose offices were visited by campaigners today are Stephen Hammond (Conservative, Wimbledon), Mark Field (Conservative, Wimbledon), Theresa Villiers (Conservative, Chipping Barnet, Mike Freer (Conservative, Finchley and Golders Green), Matthew Offord (Conservative, Hendon) and Boris Johnson (Conservative, Uxbridge and South Ruislip). These MPs represent around 1,000 people notified by HMRC that they are impacted by the Loan Charge, many more are still unaware.
The Government brought in the Loan Charge in November 2017 introducing a retrospective tax on ‘umbrella employment schemes’ going as far back as 1999, with people affected due to be hit with life-changing retrospective tax bills ranging from £30,000 to well over £100, 000 when it comes into force in less than two week’s time (5th April 2019).
These employment arrangements entered into by workers, often on the advice of employers and qualified accountants, have always been deemed legal and were declared to HMRC without challenge on tax returns.
The Treasury estimate that 50,000 people will face the retrospective Loan Charge, including social workers, doctors, nurses, supply teachers and professional contractors, although experts say the Government’s estimates hugely understate the numbers affected. MPs had believed that the Government were conducting a review into the Loan Charge, having been forced to accept a cross party amendment tabled by the Chair of the Loan Charge Parliamentary Group, Sir Ed Davey. It later emerged that there was no such review, leading to the Loan Charge APPG criticising the Treasury for acting in bad faith over this. A parliamentary Early Day Motion now has 138 MPs supporting it, calling for the retrospective element of the Loan Charge to be removed.
Steve Packham, spokesperson for campaigning organisation, The Loan Charge Action Group, said:
“Just about every UK MP has constituents caught by Loan Charge debacle, many of whom face life changing tax bills which are demonstrably unfair in law and any common sense. Many are facing
bankruptcy, breakdown and as is tragically known, some people facing the Loan Charge have taken their own lives.
“So LCAG are taking the message to MPs in their constituencies, to remind them, how many people are affected and to urge them to tell the Prime Minister she must immediately delay the Loan Charge to allow a genuinely independent review to properly assess its impact. The message to MPs up and down the country is to make the Government listen and to stop the Loan Charge and save lives”.
Notes to Editor
Media Contact: Mark Sebright – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07988 680746
1. About the Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG): LCAG seeks to raise awareness and reform of the retrospective Loan Charge introduced by HM Treasury in the 2017 Budget and build a community where affected individuals can find information and support. The Group does not provide any form of chargeable service or professional advice. Visit www.hmrcloancharge.info
2. LCAG members’ survey: In summer 2018, LCAG surveyed 500 of its members about the impact of the Loan Charge with respondents reporting:
Depression / Anxiety / Mental health impact: 68%
Loss of residence / home: 49%
Divorce / Relationship breakdown: 31%
Loss of career: 30%
Suicidal thoughts / self-harm: 39%
3. House of Commons Early Day Motion 1239: That this House expresses its concern at the 2019 Loan Charge; notes that it is retrospective applying back to 1999; further notes that as a result of the introduction of IR35, umbrella companies were set up and recommended by professional advisers and employment agencies; recognises that the Charge will affect contractors, freelancers and agency workers, including social workers, supply teachers and bank and locum nurses and doctors; notes that employment was not an option and in some cases the company or organisation insisted on those arrangements, including to avoid paying National Insurance; notes that these individuals did not receive sick or holiday pay; believes it is unfair that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are pursuing people who acted in good faith rather than the client organisations, agencies or umbrella companies all of whom benefited significantly; notes that HMRC are aggressively pursuing individuals through Advanced Payment Notices with no independent right of appeal; further believes that the Charge is likely to cause financial distress and bankruptcies, impeding HMRC’s ability to recover these tax liabilities and causing a devastating impact on people; believes that retrospectively taxing something that was technically allowed at the time, is unfair; calls on the Government to revise the legislation to avoid significant damage to independent contractors and freelancers in the UK; and calls for the Charge to apply only to disguised remuneration loans entered into after the Finance Act 2017 received Royal Assent.
For full register of MPs supporting Parliamentary motion see https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1239
4. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Loan Charge are undertaking a formal inquiry into the 2019 Loan Charge, due to report soon http://www.loanchargeappg.co.uk/appg-inquiry/