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Loan Charge 2019: Sir Amyas Morse Review

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:29 pm on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden 1:29 pm, 19th March 2020

My hon. Friend is, of course, a skilled businessman; he knows what he is doing, and he is across this sort of thing—it is his job to be across it—but I am not so sure we could say that about a locum nurse or a social worker. This issue was actually at the centre of Sir Amyas Morse’s arguments. He took the view that the attitude from 2017 should apply back to 2010, even though the law was not clear. He took the view that the principle of a taxpayer’s responsibility for their own tax affairs must be upheld. That is the point my hon. Friend is making, and it is right—but only when the law is clear. That means that the Government have a responsibility to make the law clear and not to punish ordinary, hard-working taxpayers when Ministers fail to live up to that responsibility.

HMRC itself seems to disagree on the importance of the taxpayer’s responsibility. Why do I say that? Because until 2014, it did not approach the individual taxpayers; it approached the advisers. It approached the companies that insisted—they did not ask, but they insisted—that these locums and social workers took up this option. HMRC went to the advisers until 2014—until the issue suddenly started to become quite controversial.

Last year, the Prime Minister himself commented on this issue. He said:

“The real culprits in this matter, if I may say so, are not so much the individuals themselves who have decided to use the loan charge as a way of minimising their tax exposure. It’s the people who advised them that it was a sensible thing to do. In my view, we should find a way of going after them.”

That is the Prime Minister’s view, and I happen to agree, unusually.