Parliament to Hold Last Minute Debate on Loan Charge Reform
Campaigners March on Parliament to Lobby MP Support for Delay
The Loan Charge All Party Parliamentary Group (LC APPG) has secured a three hour debate in the main chamber on a motion to delay the Loan Charge this Thursday, 4th April.
House of Commons debate – Thursday 4th April
On April 4th, just 24 hours before the controversial retrospective legislation is due to come into force, the first Westminster debate of the day will call for a delay in the implementation of the Loan Charge whilst an independent review is conducted into its legitimacy and impact on those affected.
Campaigners lobby MPs – Wednesday 3rd April
Campaigners from the Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG), formed from people impacted by the Loan Charge, will descend on Westminster to call on all MPs to support the motion for a six month suspension of the Loan Charge.
Loan Charge Background
The Government brought in the Loan Charge in November 2017 introducing a retrospective tax on freelance or contract employment arrangements going as far back as 1999. These arrangements were often entered into by workers on the advice of employers and employment agencies and are perfectly legal. Everything was declared to HMRC in tax returns without challenge at the time, yet these same workers are now being hit with life-changing tax bills ranging from £30,000 to over £100,000.
The Treasury estimate that 50,000 people face the retrospective Loan Charge including social workers, doctors, nurses, supply teachers and professional contractors. Experts say the Government’s estimates hugely understate the numbers affected.
A hashed impact assessment conducted by the Treasury prior to introducing the Loan Charge said that it was “not expected to have material impact on family formation, stability or breakdown”; however HMRC have recent reported themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct following the confirmation of a tragic suicide. Unfortunately a number of others are also known about.
Thursday’s motion has been tabled by Ross Thomson MP (Conservative Aberdeen South), Vice Chair of the LC APPG in the his name with the support of fellow APPG officers Sir Ed Davey (Lib Dem Kingston and Surbiton), Ruth Cadbury (Labour Brentford and Isleworth) , Liz Twist (Labour Blaydon) and many other MPs including former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve ( Conservative Beaconsfield), former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans (Conservative Ribble Valley) and Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Vince Cable (Lib Dem Twickenham).
There is a clear majority in the House of Commons for a delay to the imposition of the controversial Loan Charge legislation with a wide cross-section of MPs from all parties MPs supporting the motion. The Loan Charge has come under increasing political opposition in recent months, yet the Government continues to ignore this. The Government cynically blocking a vote in the January Finance Bill and then being forced into accepting a review clause tabled by Sir Ed Davey ( Amendment 26 ) which it has since reneged on.
Treasury Loan Charge Review and whitewash
Amendment NC 26 to the Finance Bill 2019, tabled by Sir Edward Davey on 8th January 2019, calling for a review of the Loan Charge was signed by 41 MPs and conceded by the Government, requiring the Treasury to conduct a full review of the Loan Charge by 31st March 2019.
The Government has since reneged on this review instead publish a report of rehashed and previously debunked HMRC propaganda – with many politicians and tax experts branding the report a whitewash.
Early Day Motion 1239 calling for reform of the Loan Charge tax legislation, and specifically its retrospective element prior to Royal Assent in November 2017, was tabled by Stephen Lloyd (Lib Dem Eastbourne) and has been signed by 143 MPs from all parties, including 30 Conservatives and 8 DUP MPs.
House Of Lords and Economic Affairs Committee Report
Peers have also slammed the retrospective nature of the Loan Charge as undermining the rule of law, and condemned HMRC’s aggressive pursuit of innocent workers.
HMRC’s unfair and aggressive pursuit of retrospective Loan Charge taxes has also been damned in a powerful report published by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee on 4th December 2018, which said there is “disturbing evidence” and “reports of increasingly aggressive behaviour towards taxpayers”. It calls on the Government to reform the Loan Charge, which Lords declared is “clearly retrospective” and ”undermines basic principles of tax fairness and certainty. “
Junior Minister to the Treasury, Mel Stride, refused to attend the House of Lords committee saying there was clear precedent that no Government minister had attended previously; Lord Forsyth responded that was because they had never previously needed to invite a Minister.
Loan Charge APPG
Amendment 26 resulted in the formation of the LC APPG which has since exposed the reality of the Loan Charge and the fact that the Treasury and HMRC are well aware that tens of thousands of families face bankruptcy, loss of livelihoods and home, as well as the associated suicide risk.
Spokesperson for campaigning organisation, the Loan Charge Action Group, Steve Packham, says: “We welcome Thursday’s motion for delay tabled by the LCAPPG and thank them for their determination to challenge the retrospective nature of this pernicious tax and the continuous misleading of MPs by both HMRC and the Treasury, which certainly warrants an investigation. HMRC and the Treasury have admitted they know about a suicide of a person facing the Loan Charge and yet callously and recklessly, they still intend to proceed with the policy.
However, the urgent matter now is for all MP’s to support the motion on Thursday to bring about a delay whilst the Loan Charge is properly considered, particularly the unfair retrospective element which is going to bankrupt so many. If the Loan Charge is not delayed many families represented in the constituencies of all MPs face ruin with lives at risk so not delaying would be disastrous.” ENDS
Notes to Editor
Media Contact: Mark Sebright – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07988 680746
- About the Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG): LCAG 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 hmrcloancharge.info
- 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%
- 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
- The Loan Charge has also been raised in the House of Commons (Treasury questions on 3rd July 2018) as follows:
- Stephen Lloyd MP (Liberal Democrat, Eastbourne): “Recent media reports have identified the severe impact of this huge retrospective charge on the mental health of some of the contractors, Mr Speaker, I’ve real concerns about their wellbeing. Will the Minister commit to setting up a 24-hour helpline to provide support for individuals caught in this trap?”
- Peter Aldous MP (Conservative, Waveney): “The retrospective nature of the 2019 Loan Charge could bankrupt thousands of people. Will the Government revise legislation to ensure this does not happen with the Loan Charge only applying to disguised remuneration loans made after the 2017 Finance Act?”
- Sir Edward Davey MP (Liberal Democrat, Kingston and Surbiton) tabled an amendment (#NC26) to the Finance Bill (published Tuesday 8th January 2019), calling for repeal of the Government’s controversial 2019 Loan Charge. A total of 41 MPs from across the political spectrum signed the amendment before the debate with many more joining the debate in support of reform which the Government duly lost, with even Conservative and DUP MPs expressing their opposition to the retrospective nature of the Loan Charge. The Government caved in and accepted the review which will now be enshrined in law and must happen with a report to be presented to the House of Commons by the 30th March 2019.
- Without reform the retrospective element of the Loan Charge tax becomes liable for tens of thousands of UK workers just a few days later.
- The new All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Loan Charge has commenced a formal
inquiry into the 2019 Loan Charge
- Since accepting an amendment to the Finance Bill, the Government are conducting a review of the Loan Charge and must report to the House of Commons by 30th March 2019. The APPG inquiry report will form part of the evidence of that review and the Government has said they will accept it as such. LoanChargeAPPG.co.uk