Joan E., London
“I was made redundant from a permanent job in the early 2000s.
An ex-colleague suggested that I should try contracting, but to be careful of IR35 legislation. She recommended a scheme provider who would be able to set me up with payroll, client invoicing, tax returns etc, and one benefit of using this scheme would be that I would pay less tax.
I managed to secure a contract and checked out the scheme provider who had been recommended to me. They gave me assurances that the scheme was approved by a leading tax barrister with full disclosure to HMRC. The scheme was being run by a team of chartered accountants and was in common use by a large work force of contractors. At no time did I ever hear the phrase “Tax Avoidance”. If I had I would have run a mile. But it all looked and sounded highly professional, had City of London offices, so I signed up to it.
For the record, I am not a “wealthy Tax Avoider” as per this Government’s narrative. I was a moderate earner & have not worked now since 2010. From about 2006 it was difficult to secure work in an ever-changing work landscape as more and more jobs were being off shored. In my naivety I thought contract work was high risk in terms lack of job security, receiving zero in the way of benefits like pension, paid holiday or sick leave etc and understood that the time actually spent working in a contract was taxed at a lower rate, quite legitimately as it was at that time.
The scheme provider submitted my tax returns with full disclosure to HMRC, and the only correspondence I received from HMRC was a letter to say that one tax year was being investigated.
The scheme provider told me that an enquiry letter was quite normal and that the longer the delay in hearing from HMRC, the less likely they were to have found anything wrong. And in the letter, sent in early 2009, HMRC themselves told me they would let me know if they found anything wrong. I heard nothing.
I gave up work in 2010 for personal reasons, and have been financially dependent on my husband since then. We sold our home to pay the APNs (once they had been corrected, as the figure demanded was based on an estimate of 50% more than the actual money received) HMRC have been completely intransigent in dealing with my personal situation, and I know I am far from being alone here.
To compound matters we have recently heard that my husband’s company are making 30% of their workforce redundant in the next few weeks. The HMRC situation goes back 10 going on 11 years, I heard nothing for most of these years and people like me, and by default us as a family, are being hounded for tax which has never been proven in court to be due. I have paid what was demanded by the APN legislation, and now the Government have changed the rules again. How can any of this this possibly be right or just ? “