Section 58 victims write to tax minister

Campaigners against retrospective tax rule Section 58, which spells bankruptcy for thousands of IT contractors, have extended an ‘olive branch’ in their dispute with David Gauke by offering the Exchequer Secretary a face-to-face meeting.

Following a letter-writing campaign in which victims of Section 58 (4) of the Finance Act (2008) contacted their local MPs, No To Retro Tax yesterday wrote to the Treasury minister directly, with an invite to talk over the legislation with their chairman, one-to-one.

“There is less value in discussing these matters at arm’s length through back and forwards correspondence than there is in face-to-face dialogue,” NTRT chair Alistair Renshaw says in his letter, a copy of which was sent exclusively to ContractorUK .

It adds: “While we appreciate it is not possible for you as a minister to meet with every individual or campaign, when the matter is of such a feral nature, there is merit in both sides bringing this matter towards a conclusion through frank and open dialogue.”

If he accepts the offer, Mr Gauke can head off “further Parliamentary interest in HMRC’s conduct” over Section 58 and its retrospective effect, at the end of the summer recess, No To Retro Tax says.

Accepting the one-to-one would also “demonstrate that you are indeed listening” and prove to taxpayers facing hardship as a result of the law that their concerns are “being considered independently of the advice you are receiving from HMRC.”

As the minister responsible for tax, Mr Gauke is also warned : “We can assure you that the matter to hand is most serious and with the evidence mounting daily to refute the claims made by HMRC and, through written correspondence and statements to parliament, by you, that NTRT will seek further advice on this matter.

“The court of public opinion amongst others will be asked to consider whether the tax authorities are out of control, unable to follow their own compliance and regulatory standards, and that government and specific ministers, when warned of this and the impact it would have on innocent taxpayers, failed to act.”

Mr Renshaw, a supporter of Tory MP Nigel Mills and his attempted tabling of an amendment to S58, says his offer to meet Mr Gauke could “avert” such a fallout – an offer which, “given your principled stance on the matter before you became the minister,” NTRT is “confident” he will accept.

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