I tried to kill myself twice while facing the loan charge, project manager tells MPs

The promoters who recommended and operated schemes now subject to the loan charge have still not been asked to pay a penny of the disputed tax, according to one of the biggest all party Parliamentary groups.

HMRC is pursuing individuals mis-sold these schemes and eight have taken their own lives, the Loan Charge and Taxpayer Fairness All Party Parliamentary Group said in a statement.

The APPG has written to Jim Harra Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary of HM Revenue and Customs to express its "serious concern" at HMRC’s failure to pursue promoters of

schemes subject to the Loan Charge.

HMRC is pursuing individuals mis-sold these schemes and eight have taken their own lives, the Loan Charge and Taxpayer Fairness All Party Parliamentary Group said in a statement.

The letter, which has been signed by co-chairs Sammy Wilson MP, Greg Smith MP and Baroness Kramer, the vice-chair, clams that HMRC wanted to continue to blame individuals despite them overwhelmingly following professional advice to use the arrangements as self-employed workers.

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The letter states: "During the course of various Parliamentary debates and committee meetings, many MPs and peers have sought answers as to the numbers of prosecutions, penalties, convictions, arrests and fines of those involved in the marketing and promotion of schemes which are subject to the Loan Charge, and have consistently received unsatisfactory, incomplete and misleading answers from both HMRC officials and also in parliamentary answers."

"Freedom of Information responses have revealed the truth, that HMRC haven’t take any action against promoters for promoting schemes now subject to the Loan Charge."

The letter quotes an email from the Director General of the Customer Compliance Group, which states: “In terms of promoters, as the note we shared yesterday with FST (Financial Secretary to the Treasury) indicates, we can’t commit to going after promoters of previous schemes for the reasons set out there."

The letter states: "This is a clear admission that HMRC are well aware that they have not pursued promoters of loan schemes, for promoting loan schemes (which is the opposite of the impression given to MPs and peers).

"Even more troubling than this, is the shocking revelation that a senior HMRC official actually rejected the idea of a review into the role of promoters as they wanted to continue to blame individuals."

"All those who are concerned about the way individuals have been pursued by HMRC, whilst promoters have faced no action for promoting loan schemes, will be appalled at this revelation. It backs up the findings of our Loan Charge Inquiry that the Loan Charge is draconian and designed to be punitive, rather than about seeking tax HMRC believes it could and should have legitimately collected at the time."

"It is also notable that HMRC’s strategy of focusing only on individuals was something that was included in the basis of the supposedly independent review of the Loan Charge, commissioned by the Treasury (and with the terms set, as is known, by the Treasury and HMRC)."

The APPG letter continues: "This again is shocking, when it is well-known that there are promoters who made huge sums from mis-selling the schemes now subject to the Loan Charge and who are not affected by the Loan Charge nor the subject of any demands from HMRC, nor prosecutions, for promoting these schemes."

An IT project manager affected by the loan charge provided the following testimony to the APPG as part of a recent call for evidence: "I tried to kill myself twice in 2018 due to stress, fortunately unsuccessfully and I have had weekly counselling sessions since. The strain that this has put on me and partner has been incredibly hard - he also tried to kill himself around the same time."

A spokesman for HMRC said: "We have received the (APPG) letter and will respond in due course."

A Government spokesperson told The Yorkshire Post recently: “The Loan Charge was introduced to ensure those who used disguised remuneration tax avoidance schemes paid their fair share of income tax and national insurance contributions. It is only right that we continue to tackle these type of avoidance schemes as they deprive our public services of vital funding.

“HMRC has already published settlement terms for those who have used disguised remuneration schemes. We encourage anyone who is worried about paying the Loan Charge to contact HMRC so they can help. HMRC is committed to working with taxpayers to enter manageable payment plans to spread their tax liability and ensure that they are affordable.”