MPs seek taxman’s take on the post-Loan Charge Review situation

A cross-party group of MPs concerned by Loan Charge 2019 wants to know what affected customers are being told by the taxman about once a review into the tax concludes.

The Loan Charge APPG said they were “keen” to receive snippets from affected customers about what HMRC has told them the “situation” will be after Sir Amyas Morse reports.

Made on Friday, the open appeal for information follows the MPs’ concern that the Revenue is “pushing people into taking bank loans” to pay sums it deems to be owed under the charge.

'If not, why not?'

In February, HMRC said it was merely “possible” that contractors caught by the charge would be asked to take out a loan with their bank, as long as repayments were ‘affordable.

Taxpayers’ correspondence with the department uploaded to Twitter shows that going into debt to pay the loan charge is now a standard question however, asked of even pensioners.

“Can you confirm you have considered a bank loan to cover the settlement offer?” HMRC asks in box two of its standard Contractor Loans Settlement form. “If not why not?”

'Ethically dubious'

The same sharp ‘if not why not?’ stab confronts taxpayers in boxes three, six and eight, in relation to asset realisation, savings and other arrangements – all to pay HMRC its demands.

“[It’s] ethically dubious and appears to constitute giving financial advice which they’re not regulated to give,” the Loan Charge APPG said of HMRC, which the MPs also accuse of encouraging taxpayers to re-mortgage their homes solely to pay bills brought via the charge.

The group said last week that they were now pressing three candidates each vying to be the next chair of the Commons Treasury Select Committee for their stances on the loan charge.

'Misled parliament'

“The next chair should lead a committee inquiry into the loan charge and properly scrutinise HM Treasury and HMRC, [to] investigate the way they have misled parliament,” it tweeted.

Sounding similarly dubious about Treasury officials, Andrea Jenkins MP has asked chancellor Sajid Javid about “what steps” he has taken to ensure the independence of the Loan Charge Review.

Without seeming to cite any steps whatsoever, Treasury minister Jesse Norman managed a three-paragraph response in an answer on Thursday, on Mr Javid’s behalf.

'Widely respected'

“The chancellor commissioned Sir Amyas Morse, former CEO of the National Audit Office, to lead an independent review to consider the impact of the Loan Charge, focusing on individuals who entered directly into disguised remuneration schemes.

“Sir Amyas has a strong track record of holding the government to account and is widely respected.”

Mr Norman, who himself has been reported to Sir Amyas over his citation about the number of Loan Charge taxpayers who have committed suicide, added: “Sir Amyas has full control over how the review is run and the outcome. For more information, the review’s terms of reference can be found [online].”

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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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