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24th April 2024 7:19 pm

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

There is nothing like an election to see Crusades launched

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R

On Thursday, I stumbled across David Davis delivering a speech on BBC Parliament. He was standing behind IDS with Jacob RM in close attendance and several other senior Tory bodies looking intense. Across the chamber, John McDonnell was getting ready to sound sensible and to talk plainly and effectively. The House was far from packed, but this seemed a fairly senior group to be having a chat, so I lingered.

What caught my attention was not that I was nearing the end of the outstanding Christmas Seed Cake a la Theo and that the Lapsang tea was chilling, but that the strong tones being used by David Davis in terms of HMRC’s accountability to Parliament smacked of real anger.

There were suggestions of obfuscation, deliberate delay, and lack of support – even possibly of a public body gone feral. In short, there were many of the same sounds of dismay relating to an organisation entirely within the control of the House of Commons – but which appeared to be forgetting its manners; similar sounds indeed as those of the Post Office Inquiry.

But what was this Loan Charge debate all about? I hear one or two of you mutter. Surely this is all to do with BBC overpaid staff and dodgy builders having it away by pretending to be borrowing money from even dodgier tax avoidance scheme companies and thus skipping tax, whilst whooping it up in Valdersomething? Surely if that means Holly Superstar and Piers Cabriolet go to the wall and end up selling The Big Issue – then three huzzahs and call me Nancy.

Well, no, that isn’t the story. Firstly and most importantly, what has happened is that HMRC and The Treasury appear to have been pulling the wool over Parliament’s eyes in a range of responses to parliamentary questions revolving around the introduction, management and impact of The Loan Charge on possibly innocent taxpayers.

The Loan Charge is retrospective legislation and changes a legal position that was in place years ago with no chance for retrospective amendments by the taxpayer. In other words, there is no Mens Rea, and there cannot be, by dint of time, any Actus Reus – and yet there are convictions, bankruptcies and suicides all in the name of tax collection.

By making it retrospective, the Government aka The Treasury aka HMRC has broken a fundamental tenet of Common law and English law by treating those involved as guilty, when they could not have known then that what they were doing would become illegal.

The Loan Charge was part of a law passed in the Finance Act of 2017 – which, on this occasion, was only given one day of parliamentary scrutiny. It is a tax charge on all payments of a specific type made to contractors from 1999 to date. The end users of these payments were paid through loan remuneration arrangements (LRAs) where the loan was never expected to be paid back. Loan remuneration arrangements were and still are legal despite being regarded as “a loophole in the tax system whereby workers could pay less tax”.

The Loan Charge affects a minimum of 50,000 people who work for themselves rather than being full-time employees of a company. Many of these people worked on a fixed-term contract basis for companies that insisted contractors were engaged either through their limited company or an umbrella company. They were told to use an umbrella company, and that company, in turn, used LRAs.

However, HMRC did not like these arrangements and “believed they didn’t work”. They did not tell the users of these schemes that they did not approve of them despite the use of LRAs being reported on the users’ self-assessment tax returns, sometimes even giving HMRC-originated scheme reference codes. The HMRC reference codes even made the user feel comfortable using the arrangement, giving them a false sense of security.

When the legislation was introduced, many people who worked in this way became worried about their tax situation, as it was not clear if their contracts fell within or outside the legislation. So HMRC supplied a Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool to determine if users of LRAs should be classed as employed or self-employed for tax purposes. Between November 2019 and May 2021, over one million users put their data through this tool, and a staggering 21% were left without a clear-cut result.

Feeling uncertain and lacking expert knowledge, people sought advice from accountants or tax experts. They were told that there were arrangements where the tax position was clear, that the arrangements were known about and approved by HMRC, and had been around for years.

Users thought this was a clear way forward and would give them certainty in their tax returns. They were also further reassured that the arrangements had also been vetted at the highest legal level by tax QCs.

HMRC let the LRAs run for over two decades without taking any action whilst, in the background, a huge tax problem was building up for the end users who had no idea that they were doing anything that HMRC did not believe worked.

When the Loan Charge was first introduced in the Finance Bill in 2017, it effectively allowed HMRC to demand additional taxes for huge accrued amounts plus interest from 1999 onwards. This devastated the unsuspecting end users who had been compliant with the legislation that stood at the time. That financial pressure has caused divorces, people have had to sell their homes, and tragically, there have been ten suicides and 13 attempted suicides.

Not many people have settled their Loan Charge tax liabilities, mainly because of the huge amounts demanded, plus interest, plus Inheritance Tax (as monies were put into trusts), but also because in the settlement papers, HMRC was asking people to sign an admission of guilt for failing to meet their statutory obligations and that they would not take action against HMRC if the situation changed.

In September 2019, Sir Amyas Morse was commissioned to lead the Independent Loan Charge Review. However, it turned out to be biased: Morse’s team was staffed by HMRC and Treasury personnel.

Jim Harra, current CEO of HMRC, sent Morse an email on 12 December 2019 to outline the scope of the review (found by Freedom of Information requests), stating:

“at the minimum, it should set out something that can reasonably be described as an independent review, but that minimises the spending/legislative/other risks that a review creates”.

A draft of the review was sent to HMRC before it was published widely, and one person affected by the Loan Charge tax has independently taken HMRC to the Tax Tribunal to get the draft released so that those affected can see any alterations that HMRC may have made to the recommendations in the Review Report before it was released.

HMRC fought to stop this draft from coming out and lost at the tribunal. They will have to release the report, but so far, the complainant is still waiting to see what it contains – and they have yet to place a copy in the Commons Library.

Oh Yes… Noticeably, the organisers of these schemes – who have all made loads of money from them –  have not been pursued, prosecuted or had tax payments sought. Amongst their number is a Mr Barrowman – husband of Lady Mone of Hardly-Dun-Robbin

If you live in Port Talbot, you will unlikely be voting for the Welsh Green Party this year. The entirely predictable outcome of the Tata Steel business relationship, the ridiculous net-zero-at-any-cost Tory policies, and the known outcome of going green on steel production have simply resulted in the loss of 3000-5000 jobs, if you take into account all the other supporting regional and Welsh engineering businesses. Worse than that, we will in future be the only country in Europe incapable of producing steel from scratch; we will be importing European scrap for recycling; we have effectively ended heavy manufacturing in Wales, and we have consigned a part of our Nation to a scrap heap of unmitigated poverty and misery.

We have to start reconciling ourselves with the fact that net zero comes with an economic burden, and that means that we have to be pragmatic and socially responsible BEFORE we start turning off the electricity and living like Siberians. If you think I’m wrong, pop into Port Talbot and tell them how pleased you are that they are all doing their bit to save the planet.

If you heard the PM’s press conference on Thursday morning, you might have wondered what his intention was, as did various legal Lords. It was banal, condescending, political gibberish and only seemed intent on putting the House of Lords’ noses’ out of joint. The Rwanda bill, as it has been presented to The Lords, leaves them with no choice. The Bill must be amended and returned as it was neither a manifesto policy nor safe against external legal challenge via existing ratified treaties and protocols. It was only this evening that the penny dropped. He wants it to fail so that he can blame Labour pre-election.

The fact that this nonsense is happening at all reaffirms every view I hold about these truly ghastly people. The constant erosion of civil liberties, the consistent introduction of poorly drafted laws based on erroneous legal assumptions, and the inability to protect the electorate from the outcomes of those laws is a relentless saga of failure. But what is far worse is that neither they nor the people whose specific job it is to work in the service of the public give a tuppenny damn when they fail.

Talking of poorly drafted texts and erroneous assumptions, here are my tips for the racing, which has inexplicably been put on this afternoon. We could have had “Cockleshell Heroes”, “Sink The Bismark” or perhaps “Battle of the River Plate” to warm us up and remind us of the days when personal sacrifice was delivered with a cheeky grin and a pithy farewell to The Boche “…what done me in.” Instead, we get Wolverhampton All Weather, and Oli Bell…. or you could have a pop at Meydan, where it is at least warm.

1:40 Wolverhampton. EDUCATOR used to be with William Haggas. He has stepped back up to 14f, and 14/1 seems a sensible price for an e/w with 5 places. CHASE THE DOLLAR too has possibilities and is only 1lb shy of his last winning mark.

EDUCATOR 2 pts e/w – CHASE THE DOLLAR 1 pt e/w

2:15 Wolverhampton. If Jack Mitchell sets the pace on AL FARABI he could easily take this from the front. EDEN STORM could fill one of the podiums.

ALAFARBU 4 pts Win – EDEN STORM 2 pts e/w

2:50 Wolverhampton. The winner comes from the top 3 in the betting. FIELDSMAN will do for me.

FIELDSMAN 2 pts e.w

3:25 Wolverhampton. CATRAKE FORCE looks to have a very lenient mark for his handicap debut. If he makes the pace, he might win this from the front. He is certainly capable of a decent placing at sensible odds.

CATRAKE FORCE 2 pts e/w 

At Meydan I have backed Tom Marquand across the card (he’s in 6 races) in e/w doubles and trebles. For the craic.

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