New suicide of Loan Charge contractor takes the tax’s death toll to seven people

Another contractor caught by Loan Charge 2019 was disclosed at the weekend to have killed themselves, tragically taking the death toll due to the tax from six people to seven people.

MPs on the Loan Charge All Party Parliamentary Group, who made the disclosure yesterday, said that they understood the loan charge contractor took their own life on Saturday night.

The MPs said the development was “tragic” and warranted reporting to the ongoing Loan Charge Review, but they also said it was “appalling” as it was “avoidable.”

'Several need support 24/7'

In fact, not even two weeks ago, chancellor Sajid Javid was warned that further people committing suicide as a direct result of HMRC’s tax rule and its approach to it was imminent.

Underlining the risk to life, volunteer Blanche Zaphe of LCAG, which issued the warning to Mr Javid, said on Saturday -- just hours before the seventh contractor killed themselves:

“I volunteer on our helpdesk; I deal with people very close to mental breakdown. A year ago we presented 100 impact statements to HMRC warning them that there would suicides.

“And in fact there have been six, directly attributable to the Loan Charge. On our helpdesk [today], we know there are several people at risk who we look after more or less 24/7.”

'Please stop'

The ‘directly attributable’ point, made by Blanche to Sky News, is a vital one according to the Loan Charge APPG, which met with Loan Charge Reviewer Sir Amyas Morse last week.

“Please can journalists and commentators stop saying that one or some suicides have ‘purportedly/allegedly been linked to the Loan Charge,’” the MPs tweeted.

“One of the loan charge suicides…[even] has the ‘Loan Charge’ [stated] as the reason for suicide in the individual’s suicide letter.”

'Demonisation'

Another, whose family gave evidence to inform a review by the MPs, said it was “demonisation” by HM Revenue & Customs which tipped their relative over the edge.

“The way the Treasury and HMRC continually (even, unacceptably in the introduction to the Terms of Reference…[of the ongoing Loan Charge Review]) claim that people entered into these schemes as a form of deliberate ‘aggressive tax avoidance’ is simply not supported by the evidence,” the MPs said.

Also in their meeting with Sir Amyas, the APPG told him to address why, when both ministers and HMRC’s CEO Sir John Thompson were informed about the suicide risk, “they continued to ignore” it, despite it being “serious.”

'Culpable'

“Instead, [they both] focused on trying to persuade MPs of their discredited case for the policy,” Sir Amyas was further told.

“There are serious question marks about this and whether they are culpable, having known about the clear suicide risk, yet wilfully continuing. This despite being told of the concern and being asked, by over 210 MPs, to pause and review the policy.”

Having similarly responding to the review, one adviser said his submission on “HMRC bullying” had clearly “come too late” for the seventh contractor to have taken their own life. The adviser says he feels “devastated”.

'Costing lives'

“This retrospective tax…is costing lives,” reflected the Loan Charge APPG. “We have in confidence shared evidence of six loan charge suicides with Sir Amyas Morse so he knows they have tragically happened.

“Alas tomorrow we have to inform him of a 7th. There must be no more, Boris Johnson.”

The APPG’s appeal to the prime minister coincides with more than 50 MPs signing their names in a letter urging Mr Javid to suspend the Loan Charge with immediate effect.

'Victims'

“For HMRC to continue to pursue people during the Loan Charge Review is unjust and wrong,” says the Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG). “Lives are at risk.”

Also reflecting in the wake of the seventh contractor to end their life over the tax, a contractor wrote: “Let's hope the review does not turn its back on the Loan Charge’s victims.”

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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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