…I never signed up for one of those fancy tax shelter loan remuneration schemes when I was a contractor. Turns out that HMRC in the UK has begun a draconian enforcement of a law passed in 2017 which allows them to charge for taxes they say are owed as far back as twenty years ago. Even if the arrangements were considered legal up until 2017. The UK tax grubbers want their pound of flesh and they want it now. According to the FT HMRC even sent out letters telling fifty thousand people that they should go into debt to pay the back taxes (a.k.a. ‘The loan charge’) being demanded.
Although I’m not affected, this news has made me very angry. Chasing debts for a legal exemption up to twenty years old? During a time when these schemes were not legally proscribed? Who keeps tax records for twenty years outside of the corporate sphere? Judas Fucking Priest! The backdated legislation behind this is heartless, dishonest and unnecessarily draconian. Not to mention that those affected are Doctors, Nurses, IT Contractors and even Social Workers. Back dated and estimated tax bills of up to a hundred thousand pounds have been sent out to the affected. Bills they have to pay or go to jail for tax evasion. Even if they weren’t evading tax at the time, merely using a legal loophole. If found guilty of tax evasion, or bankruptcy, all these people will be, in the case of Doctors, Nurses and Social Workers, disbarred from their professions and forced to take jobs far below their competence to make even a modest living.
One suicide has been recorded so far. There will be more as people are asset stripped, their houses sold to pay the bills and pension funds drained. Thus creating yet more poor people who need to subsist off the public purse.
Let me explain my anger; back in the day when I was an independent contractor I paid my taxes (Income and corporation thank you). Employers and employees NI contributions too. Until IR35 came into force and I reluctantly rolled up what had been a very enjoyable way of life before going back to being a wage slave. Which I hated. Because there’s nothing quite like running your own life to your own timetable. You may end up working fifty to sixty plus hour weeks, but at least you know who you are working for. All your profits go to you. And I’ll tell you this, I loved being my own boss, even if it meant working four extra hours at the end of each week to see my finances and tax affairs were in apple pie order.
When you work for yourself there’s a sense of freedom you can’t get anywhere else, even when you’re working twice as hard as you would if you were an ordinary employee. The lack of office politics was also refreshing. There’s a pride in being an independent too. You might have had to work a crap contract occasionally, but at the end of the day it was a lot easier to quit and find new work than if you just had a job as a full time wage slave. Losing that feeling was the worst. HR had no hold over my life outside of what I did for a company. For example, they couldn’t fire me for having a wrong opinion or looking the wrong way at someone outside of work. Or even being falsely accused of doing so. Or the hundred other excuses HR can screw with your life outside of work. In short, I loved, and still do love being my own boss. Even when times are hard there’s nothing quite like it. And there are always hard times to endure. Self employed or not.
The only real problem I had with being my own boss was the petty jealousy of the employed. The whiny crab-bucket bitches who saw what you got paid but never understood that you often paid more tax than they did. You organised your own taxes, paid accountants and book-keepers, paid extra health and professional liability insurance, the rent on office space and all the hundreds of details the self employed individual or company director deals (Or employs people to deal) with as a matter of routine.
Despite this, some wage slaves are unhappy at not being free and hate the merest thought of anyone else being happy or even moderately prosperous. I see these small minded curtain-twitchers, who decry any form of legal tax avoidance as ‘tax dodging’ or ‘not paying your fair share’, as those who would cheer at an execution without realising that their feet are also on the steps of the scaffold. None of us knows when it is our time to be strung up by the tax man, we can only take precautions, knowing that our date with the tax inspector is only a twist of fate away. There will be no sympathy, because in the tax authorities eyes, none are virtuous. Now HMRC can go back over your affairs for the last twenty years? Clucking bell. This is a truly dangerous precedent.
The main issue is that UK tax law is now so complicated, with so many exemptions and even contradictions that it is hard, even for accountants and other financial professionals, to know what is ‘legal’ and what is not.
New Labour (Blair & Brown) started this tax snatching trend and Blue Labour (Cameron & May) continued it, slicing the economic pie ever smaller instead of encouraging the production of more for everyone. All I can offer is my heartfelt sympathy to their victims. There by the grace of God go we all.