Suicides Linked to HMRC Money Demands in ‘Loan Fee’ Tax Bills | HMRC


Ministers face new calls to rethink the controversial “loan burden” placed on tens of thousands of workers, after it emerged that there had been eight cases of suicide among those subject to it. payment requests under the program.

An all-party group of MPs has previously raised concerns over the accusation, which has seen self-employed workers and contractors, including nurses and social workers, face large bills from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). While UK tax administration has ruled they avoid tax through ‘disguised pay’, people facing invoices say they are victims of abuse and have used the schemes in good faith after consulting a professional.

Authorities have now said there have been eight cases of accused taxpayer suicide. HMRC referred suicide cases to the Independent Bureau for Police Conduct, which oversees some serious complaints about the conduct of tax inspectors. It comes weeks after more than 200 MPs demanded that HMRC provide a 24 hour suicide prevention hotline for those affected. In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, MPs from the All-Party Group on Loan Burden and Taxpayer Fairness said there was “an identified and serious risk of further suicides.” They warned that the money at stake would lead to bankruptcies and loss of homes.

The HMRC has levied a fee on people who have participated in loan programs that HMRC views as “disguised remuneration,” allowing people to avoid paying national insurance and income tax. Because the plans have been in use for many years without being closed, some of the bills involved are very large. Around 50,000 people are believed to be prosecuted for around £ 3 billion in total.

A government review limited the power of HMRC to impose retroactive invoices. However, concerns remain within Parliament as to their effect. “Time and time again, the government has been warned of the serious mental health impact loan fees have on people,” said Ed Davey, Lib Dem chief. “In July, I wrote to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor urging them to change course and help those who are struggling.

“This new revelation that eight people have committed suicide in connection with the charge is tragic and my hearts go out to their families and friends. We can and must do more to address this issue and prevent more lives being lost to this issue. because of this cruel policy. The loan fees are not fair and thousands of people risk bankruptcy. It will come at a huge cost to the taxpayer and in many cases being declared bankrupt will prevent people from working again or from leaving. pay taxes. ”

Greg Smith, Conservative MP for Buckingham and co-chair of the Loan Fees and Taxpayer Fairness Group, said some of the individual bills were six digits, adding: “Loan fees continue to seriously affect so many people. ‘individuals and families across the UK, facing thousands and thousands – if not tens and hundreds of thousands – of pounds sterling in retrospective claims on the back of programs that have been professionally advised to them.

“Retrospective tax changes are just never fair and I call on the government to think urgently before more people take the horrific step of committing suicide, and so families can be freed from hell,” of the stress and uncertainty that this continuing debacle brings to them. “

HMRC said it conducted independent investigations into the eight suicides and found no evidence of misconduct. Treasury Minister Lucy Frazer said HMRC operates a settlement hotline and call managers have been trained to identify taxpayers who may need additional support.

“For taxpayers who need specialized help, HMRC advisers suggest contacting organizations like Samaritans or Mind,” she said. “The government is working with HMRC to examine what additional specialist support could be provided. “

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “The loss of life is complex and there is rarely a single cause when a person commits suicide. HMRC will cooperate fully with any investigation upon request. We take concerns for the welfare of all taxpayers seriously and recognize that significant tax obligations can add significant pressures for some taxpayers.

“When customers are having trouble paying their taxes, they should ask us for affordable payment options. We will work with them to try to agree on a payment plan that allows payment of the amount owed over time based on their financial situation.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or by email at [email protected] or [email protected] In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the Lifeline crisis helpline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines are available at www.befrienders.org


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