NEARLY 40 per cent of people facing the loan charge have seriously considered suicide, according to a report compiled by a group of MPs.
The study compiled by the Loan Charge All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) concluded that HMRC’s “ever changing deadlines and inconsistent communications are placing unbearable pressure” on people who are facing large and unexpected tax demands.
The APPG report which is based on 2,086 individual responses, also highlights the “mental health and suicide risk” which MPs have said is linked to the loan charge.
The report said: “Nearly 40 percent of participants have seriously considered suicide. At least a third have sought medication and/or counselling to cope with the situation.
“Family members are also at risk of suicide with many reports of family members experiencing depression, or on medication.”
The APPG, which is calling for a suspension of all activity linked to the charge, recently wrote to Sir Amyas Morse, who is leading the loan charge review, stating that the group had been informed of another suicide of someone facing the charge. Sir Amyas’ review will not report back until after the new Government has been formed.
The Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: “It’s obvious that we now need a complete suspension of the loan charge until this independent review has been concluded and its findings thoroughly assessed. That could easily take a couple of years or more.”
An HMRC spokesperson said: “The loan charge was introduced in the 2016 Finance Bill, giving scheme users three years to put their affairs right. We also wrote to all those affected by the loan charge in 2018 to encourage them to come forward ahead of the 5 April deadline this year.
“HMRC has put in more resources to deal with the large numbers of scheme users who have shown an interest in settling their affairs. By August 31 2019, over 99 per cent of customers who provided the relevant information by the April deadline had received settlement calculations.
The spokesman added: “We know that large tax assessments can cause worry and anxiety so we have put in place dedicated resources, including specially trained HMRC officers, to support customers.
"We have also set up a disguised remuneration helpline, which can provide details for vulnerable customers of organisations such as the Samaritans and Mind as appropriate, and we are committed to time to pay arrangements in respect of the loan charge, which can run for as long as the taxpayer needs.”