Following news that a ninth person facing action by HMRC in relation to a DR scheme has taken their own life, the Loan Charge and Taxpayer Fairness APPG has written urgently to the Chancellor urging leadership and much-needed compassion and common-sense.
The known suicide risk linked with the Loan Charge was first reported to HMRC in June 2018 and raised in Parliament in July 2018. Yet no action has taken place to deal with this “preventable timebomb”.
There have been platitude statements from HMRC saying that the nine (to date) suicide cases have been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) for investigation. However this is woefully inadequate as the IOPC remit does not consider whether a government policy has been a factor in the suicide. If HMRC officers are simply implementing a policy, there will be no wrongdoing no matter how flawed that policy is.
The APPG letter confirms that the evidence they have been sent, including one of the suicide notes of one of the nine people, shows the Loan Charge was clearly a factor. Indeed according to that family, was the reason their loved one took his own life. This is from the Loan Charge Inquiry published by the APPG (page 65) in April 2019.
The Loan Charge itself was specifically mentioned in the suicide note:
This is testimony from the family “The letter spoke of the love he had for his family but what he mostly referred to was himself. He wrote about being at the end of his tether with the
Loan Charge matter…It was clearly written by a man who had been broken by the Loan Charge process. I believe that the entire Loan Charge situation, the build up to date, the false hopes of an end, for an answer, just consumed him.”
The letter concludes by asking the Chancellor to take action:
“We urge you to engage, directly and not to pass on our letter to the current Financial Secretary to the Treasury who we are sorry to say has done nothing to address these concerns and has not even responded to the group of tax professionals who proposed a resolution to end this whole Scandal.”
We have covered the Loan Charge a lot here at IWORK, including talking to some of those caught by the policy to understand the impact, and we cannot understand why the government refuses to take humane action. It is outrageous that there have been preventable suicides, and yet still nothing is being done. We hope that newly appointed Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi MP, will bring fresh eyes and fresh thinking to the issue, and ensure that further tragedies are avoided.