Contractors protest the 2019 Loan Charge

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The Loan Charge Action Group is staging its third Westminster protest against the 2019 Loan Charge today. The demonstration is being held in a bid to make prime minister Boris Johnson honour his own pledge to suspend the legislation and order an independent review.

The Loan Charge was introduced by HMRC in the 2016 Budget, and is aimed at recuperating unpaid tax via solutions that involved loans which have now been deemed as tax avoidance. It affects an estimated 50,000 contractors that used disguised remuneration schemes from 6th April 1999, making them pay back the tax avoided by January of next year.

However, a significant number of these contractors signed up to these schemes based on third-party advice or advertising without realising the implications. Around 65% of those using the schemes working in the business services sector, which comprises roles such as management consultants, financial advisers and IT consultants.

Six people facing the Loan Charge are now known to have committed suicide, with the Loan Charge Action Group helpline having experienced a large rise in calls from people reporting suicidal thoughts. Steve Packham, co-founder of the Loan Charge Action Group, has called for the situation to “stop and stop now, before more lives are lost and families torn apart”.

He outlined the simple message of today’s protest, saying: “…the PM, who himself has backed a suspension and review, must now act. He must call upon his chosen chancellor of the exchequer, Sajid Javid, to immediately suspend the Loan Charge. This has to be done now, before parliament is prorogued, as the deadline for people to self-declare relevant loans is the end of September.”

Mr. Packham also highlighted the significant number of politicians that have spoken out against the legislation, with 214 MPs signing an open letter to Jesse Norman, the financial secretary to the Treasury, demanding its suspension and delay. He added that more than 100 MPs have written individual letters to Sajid Javid and Boris Johnson in recent weeks regarding the legislation, commenting: “For them to have done so over the summer recess, and at a time of such political turmoil, is extraordinary and unprecedented.”

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