IR35: What’s the Latest?

IR35 Latest

April’s IR35 changes have been looming large in the rear view mirror for some time now. With the self-assessment deadline having come and gone at the end of January, the focus of the contracting community has now fallen firmly upon Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget on 8th March, followed swiftly by the much-maligned changes in IR35 status for personal service company contractors in the public sector that are due to come into force from 6th April 2017. If labyrinthine policy change doesn’t fill you with vernal optimism, then we’re not sure what will.

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Contractor News Round-Up: 18th December 2015

Contractor News Round-Up

From now on, we’ll be rounding up the latest and most relevant contractor news for the contracting community once or twice a week and summarising it here on the Kingsbridge blog, making it your one-stop shop for all the latest information that’s relevant to you. Without further ado, here’s the first round up:

IR35 will not change until at least April 2017, confirms HMRC to IR35 Forum (Contractor Calculator):

“HMRC confirmed at the most recent IR35 Forum meeting on 15 December 2015 that no kneejerk measures will be implemented between now and the next Budget.

HMRC was reluctant to provide any timescale with regards to its next decision over the legislation, but it has confirmed that there will be no changes to IR35 included in the Finance Act 2016, meaning no new measures will take place during the 2016/17 tax year.”

Contractors not caught by IR35 can still claim tax reliefs (TaxAssist):

“Limited company contractors not caught by IR35 – a tax legislation designed to combat tax avoidance by workers supplying their services to clients via an intermediary – can still claim travel and subsistence tax relief.”

Busier freelancers are happier (Brookson):

“Many people choose to become a freelancer or start their own business to have more control over their schedule and enjoy a better work-life balance. A new study has now suggested that freelancers get so much gratification from their job that they are happier the busier they are.

Researchers from the University of Leicester and the University of London looked at the work schedule of 45 freelance workers over a six-month period. The study, published in the SAGE journal Human Relations, found that their wellbeing fluctuated in-line with their schedule.”

Self-employed contractor numbers reach record high (ONS):

“The number of self-employed contractors in the UK has reached an all-time high. This is according to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which show that the UK’s self-employed headcount rose above 4.6m in the three months leading to October, reflecting a 71k increase year-on-year and a 94k improvement on the previous quarter.” (Contractor Calculator).”

Contractors to submit quarterly tax returns from April 2018 (Gov.uk):

“The Government has revealed further details concerning plans to request quarterly tax returns from contractors over the coming years. In a document titled: ‘Making tax digital’, HMRC highlights that quarterly tax returns are set to be implemented from April 2018, as part of its new digital tax initiative.” (Contractor Calculator).

Draft 2016 travel and subsistence legislation – Briefing 3: Will there be a surge of PSC contracting and, if so, what risks might that involve? (Osborne Clark):

“On 11 December 2015 we issued a briefing looking at the key points and likely problems with the draft travel and subsistence legislation released on 9 December 2015, and on 14 December 2015 we looked at how umbrella models would be affected. Those were the first two briefings in a series of briefings about the draft legislation.

In this third of four briefings we comment on the impact of the proposals on users and suppliers of personal service company contractors (“PSCs”).”

Draft Finance Bill 2016 – The Kingsbridge Summary

Draft Finance Bill 2016

Today saw the release of the Draft Finance Bill 2016. After an Autumn Statement surprisingly devoid of any mention of changes to IR35 rules, despite significant pre-Statement speculation to the contrary, most members of the contracting community expected to see changes announced in today’s draft Bill. However, IR35 was once again conspicuous by its absence.

Any proposals for change that may have been happening behind government walls are staying there for the time being.  The Draft Finance Bill did include the changes to tax relief on Travel and Subsistence expenses where a contract is inside IR35 that were announced in the Autumn Statement. However, the lack of any IR35 reform suggests the government took heed of the advice of the stakeholders they consulted, as well as the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the proposed changes from the contracting community as a whole.

In a letter received by Nick Holmes, CEO of Umbrella.co.uk, and timed to coincide with the release of the Draft Finance Bill, the Chancellor stated: “We will be considering this issue carefully before taking any further decisions. Should any further changes be introduced they would be subject to detailed consultation before publishing any draft legislation.”

Whether this means that the Government are simply biding their time, or whether they have abandoned their plans for IR35 reform altogether, remains to be seen. It seems now that all eyes have moved to the next Budget statement on 16th March 2016.

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Kingsbridge Autumn Statement 2015 Reaction

Autumn Statement 2015

IR35

Despite numerous rumours to the contrary over the past few weeks, professional contractors broadly came out of the 2015 Autumn Statement unscathed (for now at least). Recent reports from HM Treasury had suggested that contractors would no longer be able to work for a single client for an uncapped period and would have to move onto the payroll after one month, but no mention was made of this in the Chancellor’s speech or in the ‘blue book’ released immediately afterwards.

It seems likely that any proposals for changes to IR35 legislation will be pushed back to April 2017. A press release from APSCo, circulated shortly after the conclusion of the Autumn Statement, stated: “It appears that, following the overwhelming negative response from business as a whole and a rigorous press and lobbying campaign by APSCo, the Government has chosen to think more carefully about the unintended consequences of the proposals.”

Samantha Hurley, Head of External Relations and Compliance at APSCo, followed up by saying:

“Of course, the lack of an announcement in the Autumn Statement doesn’t mean that the Government won’t go forward with this proposal in the future, but it does almost certainly mean that it won’t come into effect in April, 2016, which is what we feared.”

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Autumn Statement 2015 Preview

George-Osborne

Wednesday 25th November will be a big day for the contracting community. George Osborne will be delivering the first purely Conservative Autumn Statement. Following on from a summer Budget which wasn’t exactly contractor friendly, it’s heavily rumoured that the Chancellor will be addressing the contentious issue of IR35 – either offering a proposal for further reform, or at very least the introduction of further consultation. Of course, despite all the speculation, what will actually be said currently remains unknown.

It seems as though changes will be announced that will see PSC contractors no longer being able to work for a single client for an uncapped amount of time. Although earlier rumours suggested that contractors would be obliged to move onto the payroll of their client after one month of work, it now seems that will not be the case as long as they pass a new version of the ESI test. However, who must decide whether or not the contractor is inside IR35 (i.e. which contractual party will stop proceedings as early as four weeks in) remains unclear.

Join us from 9am on Wednesday 25th as we live Tweet the Autumn Statement, followed by our reaction later in the day and an in depth look at exactly what kind of impact the current Conservative government has had on the contracting community.

Should I get my contract reviewed for IR35 compliance?

IR35 For Contractors

We’re taking another look at IR35 on the Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance blog today. This week – should you get your contract reviewed for IR35 compliance?

IR35 is the legislation on everyone’s lips and it’s a subject that we have covered a number of times.  Since its passing into law in 2000, it’s been a priority for freelancers and contractors to make sure they don’t get caught in the IR35 net.

Some professional organisations now offer independent reviews of your contracts that check for IR35 compliance, giving you the peace of mind from the outset that you are not at risk of being caught out. This week, we’re going to investigate if these contract reviews are really worth it for independent professionals today.

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A Contractor’s Guide to IR35 Legislation

IR35 Legislation

At Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance, sometimes we like to revisit blog posts we’ve done in the past. It might be that you didn’t see the post first time around, or that you’ve only recently taken out an insurance policy with us. For this post we’re going back to October 2014, to take another look at our Contractor’s Guide to IR35 Legislation.

The Intermediaries Legislation, or IR35 as it is more commonly known, has been a topic of conversation for many in the world of contracting. With HMRC this year promising to reduce IR35 case investigation time, this key piece of legislation is now a topic that no contractor can afford to ignore.

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What Are The Benefits Of Holding Insurance?

Benefits Of Contractor Insurance

Our comprehensive insurance policy package includes professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurancepersonal accident cover, directors’ and officers’ liability, and employers’ liability. But covering you as you go about your work is only part of what we do. There are numerous other benefits to holding the correct insurance:

It’s a key IR35 indicator:

There’s enough to discuss about IR35 to make another blog post entirely (in fact, we’ve done just that). But, to put it simply, it’s a piece of government legislation aimed at uncovering ‘disguised employment’. What’s that? In essence, ‘disguised employment’ is when a freelancer works on a contract through their limited company, but their working conditions and contract indicate that they are working in the same way as a traditional employee.

If you get caught up in this legislation then your income will be subject to normal income tax and National Insurance contributions, meaning that you’ll lose the advantage of the low salary, high dividends tax arrangement that many contractors benefit from.

If HMRC decide to investigate the validity of your contract against the stipulations of IR35 legislation then they’ll carry out a series of Business Entity Tests. These tests function as one of the ways to prove that your contract is at low, medium, or high risk of being caught out by IR35.

Being covered by professional indemnity insurance (one of the elements of the Kingsbridge policy package) can improve your IR35 stance significantly, and forms a significant part of the Business Entity Test.

Ensuring you are fully covered as a freelance contractor is a vital step towards covering yourself at every level. At Kingsbridge we have designed our core insurance package to cover the risks you’re exposed to as a freelance contractor. This includes Professional Indemnity, Public Liability and Employers’ Liability cover, all at levels that suit the needs of the modern freelancer.

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Should I get my freelance contract reviewed for IR35 compliance?

IR35

IR35 is the legislation on everyone’s lips and it’s a subject that we have covered a number of times.  Since its passing into law in 2000, it’s been a priority for freelancers and contractors to make sure they don’t get caught in the IR35 net.

Some professional organisations now offer independent reviews of your contracts that check for IR35 compliance, giving you the peace of mind from the outset that you are not at risk of being caught out. This week, we’re going to investigate if these contract reviews are really worth it for independent professionals today.

IR35 – the risks

IR35 is aimed at uncovering ‘disguised employment’. This affects people that provide their services through a limited company, known as a personal services company. ‘Disguised employment’ is when a freelancer works on a contract through their limited company, but their working conditions and their contract indicates that they are working in the same way as a traditional employee.

If one of your contracts is caught by IR35 legislation i.e. – your work appears to be more like that of a traditional employee –  your income will then become subject to normal income tax and National Insurance contributions and you will lose the advantage of the low salary, high dividends tax arrangement that many freelancers benefit from.

IR35

The Assessment

If you are selected by HMRC to undergo an IR35 compliance investigation they will investigate both your contract and your working arrangements. That means that the way you work and the language of the contract you are working under need to be in agreement.

This is where the skills of a professional contract assessor really come to the rescue for a busy freelancer. Employment status experts will investigate the terms of your contract as well as delving into your working practices through the eyes of an HMRC investigator. That means that you have an objective onlooker examining your compliance for IR35 without you having to get bogged down in the finer details of this often very hard to understand legislation.

This way, you can be secure that both the wording of your contract, and the way in which you actually complete the work in the contract, are compliant with IR35, limiting your exposure to the risks of having an unexamined contract.

This, to us, is the biggest advantage of having an employment status professional review your contract and the way in which your services are delivered. It’s sure to give you peace of mind that a professional can help you prove to HMRC that you’ve taken reasonable steps to IR35-proof your contract.

When HMRC investigate the validity of your contract against the stipulations of IR35 legislation they carry out a series of Business Entity Tests.  These tests function as one of the ways to prove that your contract is at low, medium or high risk of being caught out by IR35.

Being covered by Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance can improve your IR35 stance and forms part of the Business Entity Test. That means that ensuring that you are fully covered as a freelance contractor is a vital step to cover yourself at every level. At Kingsbridge we have designed our core insurance package to cover the risks you’re exposed to as a freelance contractor. This includes Professional Indemnity, Public Liability and Employers’ Liability cover, all at levels that suit the needs of the modern freelancer.

If you wish to discuss your cover requirements then simply call our friendly, professional team at Kingsbridge on 01242 362160 and we will be happy to discuss your needs with you. Or, you can apply online to get access to cover almost instantly.

A brief history of IR35

Rules Regulations

We’ve written about IR35 before; the tax and National Insurance legislation that affects freelance contractors operating as limited companies. Aimed at uncovering what HMRC terms ‘disguised employment’, it is the legislation on everybody’s lips.

But when and where did IR35 originate and why is it becoming such a key piece of legislation? We’re taking a look back to find out when IR35 entered the political agenda and how it has evolved to become the legislation we know today.

1999

1999. It was the year Prince sung about and Gordon Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer. As part of the year’s budget, he announced the introduction of measures to crack down on those avoiding tax by working through limited companies while still working in a similar arrangement to a traditional employee.

2000

IR35 became law in April 2000, as part of The Finance Act. The legislation didn’t come in to force until the beginning of the financial year, but the act was backdated. This made its official commencement date 6th April 2000.

Officially known as Intermediaries Legislation, the new regulation came to be commonly known as IR35.

Opposition increases

Since the passing of IR35 into law, the legislation has been hotly debated, garnering much attention and opposition. Several bodies have been particularly vocal in their criticism, including the Professional Contractor Group, a representative organisation for freelance contractors.

Many felt that the legislation was too complex to be applied to a large variety of cases, harmed small companies that weren’t set up for the purpose of avoiding tax and actually enforced higher levels of tax on those found to be within IR35, as they are also liable for Employers National Insurance contributions.

Tax simplification and the coalition government

The Cameron Ministry saw a new Chancellor at number 11 in the shape of George Osborne in May 2010. One of his initial acts as Chancellor of the Exchequer was the creation of the Office for Tax Simplification.

One of the key objectives of the newly formed task force was to put IR35 under review and suggest to Osborne if the legislation should be drastically changed or scrapped altogether. IR35 was deemed far too important to do away with altogether and so a re-vamped version was developed.

The main changes to the law included publishing clear guidelines for freelance contractors, creating a dedicated helpline run by IR35 experts and the creation of a series of business entity tests, designed to provide contractors with an idea of the risks posed should they be selected for an IR35 investigation.

IR35 today

Since the OTS investigation, HMRC have promised to increase the number of IR35 investigations per year while reducing investigation time. There is now a whole industry of professionals that offer IR35 review services to assist freelance contractors in assessing their IR35 position.

The decision to keep IR35 and to enforce it more strongly has had an enormous impact on freelance contractors across the UK. There is no doubt that the legislation is controversial and highly contested and is likely to remain so.

Has your business been effected by the introduction of IR35? Have you invested in having your contract independently assessed by an IR35 expert? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!

Contract Tax

Having Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance can improve your IR35 profile. It is an all-important element of cover for businesses, protecting against claims of professional negligence.

Here at KPSol we have designed our core insurance package to cover the most common risks faced by freelance contractors. This includes Professional Indemnity, Public Liability and Employers Liability cover.

If you have any questions or need to discuss your requirements then simply call our friendly, professional team on 0124 236 2149 and we will be happy to discuss your needs with you. Or you can apply online to get instant cover.