Take the Business Entity Tests, get 3 years IR35-free

At a recent providers’ meeting, HMRC presented an update on how things are changing in relation to the enforcement of IR35.

What was astonishing was the low number of enquiries previously undertaken, and the length of time they were taking.

The main message? This is unacceptable.

Moving forwards, HMRC has planned to increase the number of enquiries three-fold. It’s also looking to dramatically reduce the length of time each enquiry takes, and asking for reasons to support the worker’s status in the first letter should speed this up.

If evidence such as the Business Entity Tests can be provided to show that the worker is outside of IR35, HMRC has committed to closing an enquiry within eight weeks.

After this, if the decision goes in the worker’s favour, HMRC would commit to not investigating them for another three years.

Well, that’s a get out of jail card if ever I saw one.

If I were a contractor using my own limited company for the past few years, I would take the tests and have their results effectively draw a line under my previous years’ taxes and give myself a three year respite. Happy days…

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An employee or a freelancer? Inconsistency at the BBC

It’s funny that contractors seem to be getting all the headlines, even when the US election was going on.

So the BBC has undertaken a review of its 2,400 workers who had “off-payroll” arrangements, with some 800 earning over £50,000 now having to undertake a business entity test to ensure that they are legitimate freelancers, and 131 of them likely to be offered permanent contracts.

Interesting that only the higher paid workers have to do this test. Why not all workers?

I would have thought that the lower paid workers would be more likely to be caught by IR35, as the business entity tests revolve around control and supervision. After all, the higher up the earning chain, the less control and supervision you would get.

Danny Alexander said: “It’s essential that the public has confidence that publicly funded institutions have in place arrangements to ensure their staff pay proper tax.”

It would seem he’s now getting his wish, but aren’t the government missing a trick?

With the BBC admitting that its payroll arrangements are ”inconsistent”, resulting in on-air talent doing similar work but being classed as staff, self-employed or contracted through a personal service company, it begs what else was found in the reports prepared by Deloitte, and the reasons for off-payroll arrangements – if the BBC’s CFO is to be believed…

The union mentioned that all its members use legitimate tax arrangements – rather than personal service companies to avoid paying it – but I think he’s missing the point!

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