LCAG Media Release 13th November 2018

 

100 MPs have now signed a parliamentary motion calling for the Government to scrap the unfair Loan Charge, a retrospective tax grab that will see thousands of ordinary freelance and contract workers forced into bankruptcy.

The draconian Loan Charge, which breaks normal legal convention, allows HMRC to go back twenty years, demanding huge tax bills for arrangements that were legal and declared to them at the time.

The victims – who include social workers, teachers, doctors and nurses as well as IT contractors – simply followed professional advice and submitted their tax returns every year, with HMRC never challenging them at the time. Yet now they face life-destroying tax bills they cannot pay and cannot fairly appeal.

The Early Day Motion, EDM 1239, tabled in the name of the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne, Stephen Lloyd, criticises the flawed implementation of the Loan Charge and calls for the retrospective element to be scrapped, to avoid forcing many individuals into bankruptcy, homelessness and breakdown. The EDM is here https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1239.

The motion and campaign has cross party support including many Conservative backbenchers.  MPs have realised the damage that the Loan Charge will do to their constituents and the economy, and are raising the matter with Treasury Ministers.  Conservative MPs Peter Aldous and Peter Bone have already raised the matter on the floor of the House of Commons, along with Stephen Lloyd.  Former Conservative candidate Iain Dale has slammed the Loan Charge 2019 as “outrageous” and has said it is “a political crisis in the making”.

It has also emerged that the Treasury failed to do a proper impact assessment of the Loan Charge. The impact assessment Ministers refer to claims that the package of reforms of which the Loan Charge is a part “is not expected to have a material impact on family formation, stability or breakdown”. This is patently not true – as many people have experienced severely detrimental impacts on family stability including relationship and marriage breakdown.

There is also a known suicide risk caused by the Loan Charge, yet both Philip Hammond and Mel Stride have both failed to answer a question about that live on broadcast media, something that has been branded as shameful by those affected by the policy.  LCAG surveyed 500 of its members about the impact of the Loan Charge and a huge 68% of those facing the Loan Charge suffering from depression and anxiety and a shocking 39% – well over a third of all affected – reporting suicidal thoughts and a risk of self-harm.

The vast majority, 71% of victims are facing bankruptcy and 49% face them and their families their losing their home. 30% facing losing their career, so the actions of the Treasury and HMRC will put many people out of work altogether.

Richard Horsley, Spokesperson for the Loan Charge Action Group said:

“The Loan Charge Action Group are delighted that a hundred MPs have signed the motion on the Loan Charge and all those facing ruin from this unfair and dangerous policy are very grateful to them.

“More and more MPs on all sides of the House of Commons are realising that the Loan Charge is a disastrous measure that will damage the economy and the NHS and destroy lives.  We urge even more MPs to wake up to this disaster and join those calling for this ill-considered policy to be scrapped, so that the Treasury finally listen”.

Dr Iain Campbell, Secretary General of the Independent Health Professionals Association added:

“The Independent Health Professionals Association fully supports the campaign to end the unfair retrospective aspect of the Loan Charge and we are delighted to see that 100 cross party MPs now understand the damage this will do not only to many individuals but also to the NHS.

“We know of doctors and nurses who will be badly hit by the Loan Charge and some who will be forced into bankruptcy. Some will no longer work in the NHS as a result, which will cause staff shortages and harm patient care. We urge more MPs to listen and urge Treasury Ministers to repeal the life-destroying retrospective element of this policy”.

Notes to Editors

Media Contact: Mark Sebright – marks@imagenuk.com / 07504 042613

  • The Treasury Committee minutes are here, the questions are Q312 & Q313 http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/treasury-committee/budget-2018/oral/92275.html
  • About the Loan Charge Action Group: The Loan Charge Action Group seeks to raise awareness and reform of the retrospective IR35 tax 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
  • LCAG members’ survey: In summer 2018, LCAG surveyed 500 of its members about the impact of the Loan Charge and the following were the responses as to how it was affecting people:
Depression / Anxiety / Mental health impact: 68%
Bankruptcy: 71%
Loss of residence / home: 49%
Divorce / Relationship breakdown: 31%
Loss of career: 30%
Suicidal thoughts / self-harm: 39%
  • The Independent Health Professionals Association is a Trade Association representing thousands of independent health care professionals, including locum doctors and nurses working in the NHS. See https://ihpa.org.uk/
  • 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
  • Suicide risk – HMRC and HMT are aware of the suicide risk being created by the Loan Charge (as reported in the Evening Standard https://www.standard.co.uk/business/suicide-watch-the-preventable-tax-timebomb-looming-for-freelancers-a3861916.html, yet so far have refused to set up a 24 hour helpline for people needing urgent counselling, see https://www.hmrcloancharge.info/news/hmrc_please_be_suicidal_during_office_hours/ .