Sir Keir Starmer beats Boris Johnson on loan ‘sell-off’ scandal

Boris Johnson may have one last chance to intervene on loan fees, before Sir Keir Starmer asks his shadow treasury ministers to review the legislation with the help of his critics.

In a new suddenly politically charged race between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, HMRC’s policies are presented to both of them as a mass sell-out, akin to the postal scandal, which their conscience is urged to to resolve.

The Labor leader himself has previously called the 2019 accusation a sell-off, saying in a new letter to one of his constituents that “people are facing substantial payments for schemes they have often been forced into by inadvertent by employers or misguided by accountants “.

“Mis-sold, not ill-advised, Prime Minister”

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson, who during a PMQ last month said HMRC customers were ‘misguided’, was thanked by the SNP’s John McNally for speaking out about the problem, but also corrected:

“Rather than people being misguided, they actually sold the arrangements badly,” McNally told the Prime Minister in a letter widely endorsed on social media for giving Number 10 a “perfect summary” of the injustice loan fees.

The Falkirk MP continued: “People have not felt any risk of using the schemes which have been recommended, in some cases by registered accountants and tax advisers, as entirely legal and in some cases less risky. than using a limited liability company. “

“Victims of abusive sales”

As a result, “the approach taken by HMRC and the UK government should be very different” from the approach currently taken by HMRC with loan fees, Mr Johnson said.

“People facing loan fees are victims of abuse,” the Loan Charge Action Group confirmed on Friday, also in a letter, but this time to Sir Keir offering his support to help his shadow treasury ministers review the rule .

LCAG explained, “People have been informed, in writing, by professional advisers and the promoters of these arrangements, that these plans are tax compliant and QC approved.

“Some people even asked HMRC about them and HMRC didn’t tell them not to use them at the time, despite their claims that they” were always clear “that they weren’t working.”

“Complete parody”

“Someone needs to help,” said one Twitter user, trying to get either Mr Johnson or Sir Keir to intervene.

“All this scenario [of the loan charge] leads to anxiety at one end of the scale, worsening to suicide for many [at the other]. A complete parody that someone has to stop.

Anything but pledge to act, Sir Keir said in his letter (written to tax lawyer Keith Gordon) that he believed “HMRC has urgent questions to answer”.

“A control to prevent such events from happening again”

The Labor leader also told QC: “The impact in far too many cases has been extremely severe, in some cases leading to dire financial and personal damage.”

“I have asked my shadow treasury ministers to take a close look at this legislation and improve it, with the help of loan fee activists, to prevent such things from happening again.”

While acknowledging he gave the instruction, LCAG’s Steve Packham regrets that the government’s “weak and vague proposals” will fall short of Sir Keir’s goal of avoiding a re-enforcement of loan charges.

“Compensation for victims”

Offering to work with Labor and having an idea of ​​what he might ask the leader of the party to table in the House of Commons, the group said: ‘We think the best and only realistic way to do it is to ensure that agencies and / or scheme operators are liable for any tax deemed to have been avoided.

Mr McNally, for the SNP, makes a similar point in his letter to the Prime Minister. “Why [is it] than those who have been advised to use these patterns [are the ones] who are being sued… rather, ”he said,“ than those who took advantage of advising people to use these arrangements?

On Twitter, an entrepreneur in charge of loans reflected, with a little optimism: “Thank you very much John [McNally] for raising the injustice of the retrospective loan charge with Boris [Johnson] to PMQs and in your follow-up letter. The victims of the postal scandal are compensated, so will HMRC pay compensation for their loan fee debacle? “

‘Make it out’

But others online say it’s not just a two-horse race or, if so, that Mr Johnson and Sir Keir aren’t the only ones to be blamed if the charges loan are not canceled.

Referring to Sir Graham Brady joining an open letter from the MP protesting the loan fees, one social media user said: ‘It’s not just Boris Johnson, or even [chancellor] Rishi Sunak’s fault … it is also the failure of the 1922 Committee for allowing them to get away with it.

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