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I pay tribute to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House for their eloquence and the detail of their arguments. That will save me some time in my speech, and allows me to give the perspective of one of my constituents. I received a number of constituent inquiries on this subject, but I highlight just one.
In 2008, one of my constituents was a pilot employed by Ryanair. His conditions changed and he was forced to become self-employed. He attempted to register as self-employed, and was asked a series of questions by HMRC, including, “Do I supply my own equipment?” Obviously he did not; Ryanair supplied the plane. “Can I work for who I want?” Absolutely not; he was on the Ryanair rota. “Can I nominate a substitute?” He could not, because he had registered with Ryanair and was allowed to work only so many hours. He could not honestly answer yes to these questions, and so could not become self-employed, although a number of his colleagues did. He, though, was an honest man, and he decided not to.
My constituent looked for alternatives, and found a company on the Isle of Man—a group of qualified and recognised accountants who, for payment, presented him with a legal solution, known as an employee benefit trust. He did not really understand the implications of that solution, but he did his due diligence, and found that it was indeed legal and acceptable to HMRC. He proceeded with that system for four or five years, and filled in his tax returns legally every year on time, declaring his usage of that scheme. He was made aware of the loan charge in 2019. He came forward to HMRC straightaway and offered settlement. He assumed HMRC would treat him as an employed person and charge him for the tax he was due to pay, so he waited for the settlement figures and, in the meantime, paid £30,000 in accelerated payment notices—in fact, an advance payment of tax.
That year, he received a bill of £213,000, almost half of which was made up of interest and penalties. There was no allowance for the vast expenses he incurred. Ryanair made him pay for taxis, hotels and even water, and he had no pension relief. HMRC did not deduct the APNs he had previously paid, and he had provided all this information. He is still in dispute with HMRC.
None of that is fair. This has been a life-changing experience for him and his family. He has been treated like a criminal. He has not evaded tax law, he believes he has acted legally at all times, and he refuses to allow HMRC to ruin his life due to its incompetence. He believes this is nothing more than bullying of individuals by an all-powerful and out-of-control Government body that should rather be pursuing the people behind such schemes.
I will keep my speech short, as I appreciate we are short of time. In the interest of natural justice and fairness, I support the motion:
“That this House
believes that the Loan Charge is an unjust and retrospective tax;
notes that the law on the Loan Charge was not settled until 2017;
and calls on HMRC to cease action on loans paid before 2017.”