HMRC Loan Charge deadlines put pressure on Johnson’s review pledge

The government’s own self-imposed Loan Charge 2019 deadlines are piling pressure on new prime minister Boris Johnson to run his promised review sooner rather than later, if people’s lives are to be saved.

Issuing this stark, sobering reading, the Loan Charge Action Group said that any suspension of the charge triggered by Boris Johnson’s pledged Loan Charge review might not necessarily head off further suicides.

That’s because affected contractors are already under the stress of having to finalise any voluntary settlement to HMRC now, if they want to meet the tax authority’s deadline for such an arrangement – August 31st.

'Too late'

But affected contractors are working under a second deadline too, because HMRC also says that all loans caught by the Loan Charge must be disclosed to its officials via an online portal no later than September 30th.

So while the PM’s pledge to review the Loan Charge and (presumably pause it pending the results) is welcome according to LCAG, the lobbyist-turned-support group for those without a means to pay fears that the suspension may “come too late.”

“A summer of recess before parliament is suspended leading up to the August and September deadlines will cause untold stress [and] more than likely, more suicides,” warns LCAG co-founder Steve Packham.

“There is a real urgency to this situation that Boris Johnson and [financial secretary to the Treasury] Jesse Norman need to fully appreciate and act on -- now.”

'At least five suicides'

In a series of tweets, the cross-party MP group the Loan Charge APPG said on Friday: “[The Loan Charge has] already caused at least five suicides and is destroying families.”

The MPs added: “But HMRC and HMT continue to ignore [the suicide risk] despite this having been sent to them [as evidence.] It’s time for Boris Johnson to uphold his commitment”.

Sounding concerned about the window for ministerial intervention being narrow, Bob Neil MP told Sajid Javid, the new chancellor, in a letter about the loan charge last week:

“Fairness and decency dictates that there should be a comprehensive review of the charge, and for that to be meaningful, that it should be independent and have time to do its work.”

'Starring down the barrel'

But writing to ContractorUK to request support, one loan charge contractor implied that time is not on the side of individuals like himself either.

 “Savage HMRC are….[inflicting] damage to the contracting sector [now],” he wrote in an email last week. “I know of [other loan charge contractors] who aren’t so lucky as I [as they] are starring down the barrel of losing their house and being made bankrupt.”

Also speaking to ContractorUK, though earlier in June, another Loan Charge contractor signalled that the August deadline was taking its toll -- in line with Mr Packham's current concerns. 

“I am one of the many contractors liable to make a life-changing loan charge payment in the next few months,” the individual wrote. “[It’s very difficult for the unaffected to] appreciate the plight of the normal law-abiding citizen who has been living with this life-changing event hanging over them for many years.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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