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NTRT Campaign: Your urgent lobbying assistance required again!

Dear All,

As you may be aware, we are supporting the efforts of those who are lobbying against the measures contained in this year’s Finance Bill which will introduce Accelerated Payment Notices and allow HMRC to require payment of disputed tax upfront and before any arguments have been heard in the tax courts.

We are therefore asking every NTRT member, their partners, colleagues and as many people as possible, as a matter of urgency, to write to their MP over the course of the next few days and lobby them to support changes to the legislation which would have the effect of introducing an independent appeals process, and, more importantly, ensuring that Accelerated Payment Notices can only be issued for tax planning carried out after the legislation receives Royal Assent.

Follow this link to download a toolkit with a template letter which you should tailor and amend where appropriate, making it as bespoke as possible, and then send to your MP. It is crucial that as many people as possible write to their MPs over the course of the next week or so.

I understand that a lot of NTRT members have engaged in protracted correspondence with their MP and may be reluctant to do so again. However, it is vital for us to give this another big push – do be reassured that on this issue we have others on our side who are also lobbying against the introduction of further retrospective legislation and so we are part of a much bigger effort.

One you have written to your MP using this toolkit, please do let George Paterson at Whitehouse know by emailing him at, and do let me know if you have any questions.


Yours sincerely,

Alistair Cliff Renshaw

NTRT Campaign Chairman


T: 020 7138 3228
M: 07531 780 378

E: Carl Thomson at WhitehousingConsulting co uk

222 Southbank House, Black Prince Road, London, SE1 7SJ
T: +44 (0)20 7463 0690 / F: +44 (0)20 7463 0691

Retrospective legislation is an offence to justice and an enemy to growth

"Retrospective legislation is an offence to justice and an enemy to growth" - that is the headline that appeared on the ConservativeHome website today in an article written by Rob Barber.

In the article, Mr Barber states the very reason a great many of us entered into a tax planning scheme in the first place:

"In 2000, the then Government introduced IR35 to combat what it saw as “disguised employment” by freelancers, contractors and consultants. However, IR35 resulted in far higher tax demands being placed on consultants who fell within its scope – more than would have been the case had they been in regular employment. It also created great uncertainty about when the provisions would apply, leaving contractors fearing future demands and being pursued for unexpected liabilities. IR35 is now recognised as bad legislation, and the Government has pledged to review it – although this has not taken place and the term “disguised employment” has simply been redefined. leaving contractors in exactly the same position of uncertainty."

He then goes on to state our case very succinctly:

"To obtain greater certainty about their tax affairs, many consultants instead used a tax planning product that was widely marketed by tax consultancies and promoters, and which utilised double taxation agreements and trading trusts to create greater certainty. It also had the added effect of substantially reducing tax liabilities, and hence could be considered tax avoidance and a tax loophole. Nonetheless, these arrangements had been debated by Parliament as far back as in 1987, had been reviewed by HMRC and were included in their tax manual. HMRC accepted money claims under the arrangements, encouraging its dissemination and creating legitimate expectation that the practice was tolerated. Between 2000 and 2008, several thousand IT consultants, contractors and freelancers entered into the arrangements to gain more certainty about their tax position."


Amend ‘devastating’ tax rule Section 58, MPs tell Osborne

Eighteen MPs from five political parties have signed a letter to George Osborne urging him to use this year’s Finance Bill to amend a retrospective change to tax law, which threatens to force hundreds of IT contractors into bankruptcy.

Members of Parliament from the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Democratic Unionists say they have wirtten to the chancellor asking him to repeal the backdated element in Section 58(4) of the Finance Act 2008.

Coordinated by Tory MP Jeremy Lefroy, the letter explains that Section 58 – known as BN66 after the Budget Note it was issued upon – made changes to the law regarding double-taxation treaty tax-planning arrangements, which were used by the contractor community.

Relied on by such freelance professionals to manage their liabilities following the introduction of IR35, the arrangements were debated and approved by parliament in 1987 and were even included in HM Revenue & Customs’ own tax manual.

Although HMRC accepted claims for relief under the arrangements (while challenging some others), the Labour government claimed in 2008 that they constituted “abusive tax avoidance” and shut them down without warning, both prospectively and retrospectively.

“Retrospective legislation is against the principles of a democratic society,” Alistair Renshaw, chairman of campaign group No To Retro Tax, which is supporting the MPs’ call for repeal, argued yesterday.

“There is [also] real concern about how HMRC acted in persuading ministers to make such sweeping and unannounced retrospective changes, going back so many years, to a practice that parliament had said was legal and HMRC had in the past approved and said could not be challenged.”


Retrospective tax campaign warns of £528m raid on UK companies through legal uncertainty

Press information

 Carl Thomson
+44 (0)20 7138 3228 / +44 (0)7531 780 378

Retrospective tax campaign warns of £528m raid on UK companies through legal uncertainty

24th May 2012. A campaign organisation which represents victims of retrospective tax legislation in the UK has warned that the Government’s enthusiasm to act retrospectively on tax issues could cost the country more than £528m as other countries adopt a similar approach and target British companies with retrospective and back dated tax demands.

Section 58(4) of the UK Finance Act 2008 closed down a series of loopholes which meant tax liabilities could be minimised through the use of offshore trusts and Double Taxation Treaties. These schemes were used by freelancers, healthcare workers and contractors to arrange their tax affairs following the introduction of IR35. Section 58(4) not only closed these schemes down prospectively, but also made them illegal for the entire period they had been in operation. As a result, thousands of UK taxpayers are now being pursued by HMRC for backdated liabilities stretching back almost ten years, despite the fact that the schemes had previously been acknowledged by HMRC as perfectly legal.

The Indian Government has cited Section 58(4) as a precedent for its decision to impose a retrospective capital gains tax on cross-border acquisitions going back fifty years, which have seen British companies such as Vodafone landed with a £2.8bn back dated tax bill. Although the Chancellor of the Exchequer has warned his Indian counterpart that the move will harm the investment climate in India, the Exchequer Secretary David Gauke recently told a group of MPs that the economic climate justified the use of retrospective tax in the UK.

The No to Retro Tax campaign has warned that, while HMRC hopes to raise more than £200m through Section 58(4), the loss to the Exchequer from foreign governments adopting similar measures against British companies could be even higher. In the case of Vodafone, the campaign has said that this example alone will cost over £528m – and that while Section 58(4) remains on the statute book, they will continue to be used to justify further tax raids on UK interests.


An interesting and very graphic view of HMRC’s inconsistencies

NoToRetroTax came across this interesting timeline today.

Now, as we know, HMRC have conveyed through David Gauke, George Osborne and other ministers that they have always claimed the tax scheme didn't work. In fact, as can be seen from the timeline, the earliest this was actually stated was  May 2007.

UPDATE: We have updated the timeline to include the year that the loophole was first identified in the Inland Revenue Tax Handbook in 1993! This has been acknowledged by a Freedom of Information Act request.

For a much more detailed account, please donate and join our campaign.