First introduced in 2000 the IR35 rules (more correctly known as the intermediaries legislation for income tax) have forever since been a source of stress and worry for contractors. Someone who works in a “Personal Service Company” is supposed to do a self assessment as to whether they are caught by the legislation that in effect says that they are a disguised employee. If so they then have to pay a deemed payment to themselves through PAYE as described here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-calculate-the-deemed-employment-payment
The practical upshot is that if the deemed payment is applied then the contractor ends up paying the Employer’s and Employee’s National Insurance. Not a scenario most would want. So many contractors assume they are outside IR35 and proceed as such.
Contractors can use HMRC’s CEST tool to try and determine their status. But this tool is potentially not always accurate. HMRC lost yet another tribunal recently https://www.ipse.co.uk/our/news-listing/defeat-puts-to-pasture-hmrc-s-argument-about-moo.html where CEST may well have not reported the answer that the judge found.
Another change came in April 2017 when the Government brought in rules to tighten up the use of contractors in the public sector. The IR35 status decision in Public Sector contracts is now made by the client, not the contractor. The risk of getting the status wrong now resides with the client. This might seem good for the Contractor but in practice has led to the reduction of Public Sector contracts that are available.
If this all seems opaque then there is possibly more to come. The Autumn budget 2017 contained the information that the Government would be consulting about extending the new Public Sector IR35 rules to the private sector. So watch this space!
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