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MPs Say Loan Charge Similar to Post Office Scandal

The loan charge took centre stage in a recent parliamentary debate, with many MPs likening it to the Post Office scandal.

Opening the debate, Sammy Wilson MP said:

“I say to the House – I do not think that I am being overdramatic when I say this – that we are looking at another Horizon scandal, and the parallels are frightening,”

Regular readers will know that the Loan Charge is a controversial HMRC policy which charges contractors huge tax bills, often six-figures, for being in disguised remuneration schemes that they often knew nothing about.

Parallels with the Post Office scandal

Similarities with the Post Office / Horizon scandal have been suggested due to HMRC’s dogged persecution of victims personally, despite them protesting their innocence.

It is extremely shocking and upsetting that ten suicides have been linked with the Loan Charge, yet HMRC have not been held to account for the impact of their disastrous tax policy.  Some ministers have refused to meet with the Loan Charge All Party Parliamentary Group, while others simply regurgitate HMRC’s excuses for what is happening.

Wilson continued:

“It is almost like a warning: ‘Don’t be taking up these cases, because these are bad people that you are talking about.’  That is exactly parallel to what we found with the Horizon scandal.”

HMRC operates with impunity

Conservative MP Iain Duncan-Smith was one of many MPs criticising HMRC, saying:

“One thing that I discovered in government, and that I have constantly observed, is that HMRC is a very peculiar department. HMRC is unaccountable.  The backdrop to this issue is that HMRC operates almost with impunity.”

Desmond Wayne MP said that the Loan Charge:

“takes away the right to appeal to a tribunal with an administrative or quasi-judicial process to have cases fairly considered.  It made HMRC both judge and jury”

Will HMRC ever be held to account?

In a further shock development, HMRC has been accused of deliberately deceiving MPs regarding their action taken against loan scheme promoters, more on this story here.

Having been a long-term supporter of justice for loan charge victims, I very much hope that lessons will be learned from the Horizon scandal, and that HMRC’s actions will actually be properly scrutinised in the near future.

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