Loan Charge

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 11th April 2019.

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Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General 4:45 pm, 11th April 2019

I am afraid I will not. I want to make progress, as there is a lot to cover and little time.

For the benefit of the House, let me set out the heart of how these schemes work, so that we are clear on that point. An employer can engage an employee and pay them in the normal way, by way of earnings, in which case national insurance for the employer and the employee is due. Income tax must also be paid by the employee. Alternatively, they can use a loan scheme, which generally works like this: instead of the employer paying the employee in the way I have described, money is sent out to a low or no-tax tax haven, and placed in a trust. That money then comes from the trust back to the United Kingdom, where it is treated as a loan, even though there is no intention of ever settling that loan or paying it off. Because that money it is treated as a loan, it is claimed that it does not incur any national insurance or income tax because it is not earnings.

When confronted with the reality of how these schemes work, most people would say that that is not right. That brings me on to one of the most commonly held misconceptions about these schemes and the loan charge, which is that the loan charge is retrospective. There was never a time in the history of our country where the model for payment that I have just outlined has ever been correct within the tax rules of any previous year. That is a simple fact.