Qdos Contractor, part of The Qdos Group has said that the government must rethink its approach to IR35 and the impact it currently has on the UK’s two million independent workers if it has any hopes of winning back the waning support of contractors this year. Past research carried out by the company has outlined the clear lack of trust independent workers currently have in the government, following controversial recent and predicted IR35 changes.
•95 per cent believe the government is reducing the benefits of self-employment;
•97 per cent do not believe the government has their best interests at heart;
•63 per cent have called on the government to prioritise building a fairer tax system.
“To repair its fractured relationship with independent workers in 2018, the Government must begin building a tax system that genuinely works for those brave enough to strike out alone,” says Qdos Contractor CEO, Seb Maley. “More specifically, it must rethink its current position on IR35.”
The areas of focus include:
Approaching IR35 consultation with an open mind
“The government has promised to consult on recent and potential IR35 reform in 2018, but it’s imperative for them to do so with an open mind and to honestly assess how this legislation currently affects contractors,” says Maley. “The government must actually consult with UK businesses and the contracting community before any further reform is announced. An open dialogue with the people that IR35 reform impacts is essential, while ruling out further changes entirely would go some way to convincing contractors that this government is a supportive one.”
HMRC must take a considered approach to IR35 investigations
Male notes that last year HMRC began policing newly enforced rules in the public sector. The sector has yet to hear of a formal IR35 investigationbut, says Maley it is important that HMRC approach any enquiry in 2018 objectively and assess the facts of the working arrangement in question. “Despite reform, the rules around IR35 have not changed,” he says. “In addition to this, the process of any IR35 investigation remains relatively unknown. While we don’t expect HMRC to reveal a detailed strategy, contractors would take confidence if they knew case law was the foundation for any argument.”
Highlight importance of NHS making well-informed IR35 determinations
Soon after public sector reform was introduced last year, The NHS made a blanket determination and placed its entire contract and locum workforce inside IR35. This initial stance has since been reversed, but Qdos understands a number of contractors are yet have their working arrangement reviewed individually.
“The government must stress the importance of case-by-case IR35 assessments, particularly if it wants The NHS to continue attracting the thousands of locum and contract workers that it so clearly relies on,” says Maley.
“The government seems set on reducing the tax advantages of working self-employed,” concludes Maley. “Despite independent workers insisting they would prefer to work without employment rights, the government must then revisit the relationship between tax status and employment privileges in 2018.
“It’s only fair that independent workers are at least offered certain rights, particularly if they are made to effectively pay the same taxes as an employee should they be working under IR35,” he says.