Brexit: tax implications for contractors

Tax implications for contractors

Seven weeks after the EU Referendum vote and there has been little clarity on what will happen, when and by whom! In fact, until Article 50 is triggered, sparking the start of exit negotiations, we’re likely to remain in a haze of uncertainty at least until the Autumn. Our own political parties need to get their houses back in order before they can start divorce proceedings.

 

But a lot of people, understandably, are not keen on playing the waiting game and want at least some idea of what the future holds, now. Here we take a look at what Brexit is likely to mean for contractors and their taxes in the short-, medium- and longer-term. Before we get started, it’s important to stress that even once Article 50 is triggered it’ll be at least another two years until changes come into effect, following what will undoubtedly be complicated negotiations between UK and EU officials. Until that time, existing arrangements will remain in play.

 

In the short-term

Many in the accounting world expected progress to kick start on the Making Tax Digital consultations following a remain outcome. It now seems likely this will slip far down the priority list, unlikely to reemerge at least until a new Cabinet is in place. Any delay in progressing this already unpopular proposal will be music to many contractors’ ears.

 

With the Finance bill 2016 already behind schedule, further delays seem inevitable meaning a delay in the Finance Act due to be passed in October, while the Government sorts itself out.

 

There are already 40 pieces of tax legislation which have been already delayed during the Referendum so these will now be reactivated with a view to most coming into force later this year and early next.

 

One thing we can be pretty certain on, is that an emergency Budget will be held before the year is out.

 

In the medium-term

If the emergency Budget follows the blueprint which Osborne forecast when he was Chancellor during the Referendum campaign, then we can expect £15bn of tax rises and £15bn of spending cuts. If this does happen, we’re likely to see rises in income tax and National Insurance, with the campaign forecast suggesting a 2 pence rise in the basic rate of income tax; a 3 pence rise in the higher rate and a 5% inheritance tax rate to 45p.

 

As an incentive to companies to stay in the UK, it is expected that the rate of corporation tax will probably not increase.

 

There are two key guiding principles relating to the application of taxes within the UK:

1. Direct taxes are imposed by UK law but in accordance with EU law.

2. VAT is imposed and operated in accordance with EU law.

 

So for the next two years nothing can change relating to VAT without complying with the existing EU arrangements.

 

In the long-term

During the transition period (which is likely to continue to late 2018), VAT – like all the other tax and regulation tied to European law – won’t change. Despite the Leave campaign’s promise to cut VAT rates on domestic fuel, this is unlikely to happen in reality as it generates £115bn a year for the UK government. We may even see VAT rates increasing as it is easy to implement the change and is a more straightforward way to boost the government’s coffers.

 

Once fully out of the EU, sales going in and out of the UK will be treated as imports and exports and so subject to different VAT treatments to now, where they are considered as intra-EU movements. VAT on expenses incurred in other EU countries will probably be more difficult to recover.

 

For UK businesses selling digital services in the EU, VAT MOSS will continue to apply but on a non-EU basis, meaning the operation of VAT-MOSS is likely to become more complicated.

 

Since the decision was made to exit it has come to light that the UK and EU have disagreed on several occasions over the scope and operation of UK taxes including patent box, changes to the taxation of controlled foreign companies, differential rates of insurance premium tax and capital duty.

 

Once out of the EU, the powers in London, Edinburgh and Belfast will dictate tax rates and structures according to the UK’s needs and subject to whatever settlement is made with Europe. It is also anticipated that more tax incentives will be introduced to encourage investment in the UK as we break away from needing to seek EU approval on issues concerning R&D credits, the patent box, and executive investment schemes.

 

At Intouch we will, of course, be keeping a keen eye on developments and advising our clients on how to get the best from their Limited Company. To benefit from unlimited advice whenever you need it, sign up to our all inclusive monthly service and rest assured that we’re here for you, whatever the future holds.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Leap year love – do what you love on this extra day

Happy Leap Year!

Today marks a leap year, a whole extra day to do whatever you like! So how will you be spending the day? How about doing something you love?

 

Here are just a few ideas you could try:

  • Be brave, bite the bullet and propose to your boyfriend!
  • Book a holiday
  • Watch a marathon box set or series of movies
  • Have a “staycation” – imagine you’re a tourist in your own town for a day
  • Buy a novel by your favourite author and read it in one day
  • Plan an old fashioned play day with children or grandchildren and relive your childhood
  • Visit a National Trust property to see snowdrops, the first signs of spring
  • Learn a new skill at a one-day workshop – eg cooking, photography, mindfulness
  • Volunteer for a day – so rewarding and you may decide to make it a regular event

 

Contracting means you can design your professional career around your personal life, rather than the other way around. You work when, where and how you like (try doing that if you are a permanent employee!) Why not take a couple of minutes to find out what makes a successful contractor? If you’re considering contracting, it’s better to be fully prepared and know what to expect.

 

A few fun facts about leap years

So, you’ve decided how you’re spending your extra day, but do you know how the leap day came about and how the rest of the world celebrates?

 

  • A leap year occurs every four years to help synchronize the calendar year with the solar year, or the length of time it takes the earth to orbit the sun, which is about 365¼ days.
  • However, because the orbit is slightly less, we have to skip three leap days every 400 years. The last time was in February 1900. The next time will be in February 2100.
  • Only 30 people alive today experienced the skipped Leap Day in 1900.
  • The tradition of a woman being “allowed” to propose marriage on 29th February became commonplace in the 19th Century.
  • Women who propose must either wear breeches or a scarlet petticoat to pop the question. In Scotland, the petticoat should be partly visible to the man during the proposal. If a man refused his partner’s proposal, he would be fined a kiss, a silk dress or twelve pairs of gloves.
  • One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year. They believe it is bad luck.
  • People born on February 29 are called “leaplings” or “leapers”.  The chance of being born on a leap day is one in 1,461. There are five million leaplings around the world.

 

So what will you be up to this leap year? Why not share your plans with us. Simply leave a comment below and we will share the craziest with our Twitter and Facebook followers!

 

And if you haven’t yet leapt at the chance of contracting and the freedom it brings, why not become your own boss and use 2016 to take a quantum leap forward for personal and professional freedom?

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Everything’s about to change for Umbrella workers – make sure you’re prepared

Calling all Umbrella workers

Are you currently contracting under an Umbrella? Have you considered how the changes coming in April will affect you?

 

Read on to know what’s coming, what you’ll be losing and what you can do to make the right choice for you.

 

Announcements made in the 2015 Budgets, the Autumn Statement and the draft Finance Bill shook the UK’s 200,000 Umbrella workers, as the feared changes were confirmed. Fundamentally, Umbrella workers’ take home pay is under threat from increased taxation. Come April 2016 strict new rules are to be imposed. How will they affect you?

 

Your professional life will change

In April this year:

  • Your tax relief on travel and subsistence expenses will be restricted, where you are subject to supervision, direction or control (SDC)
  • You’ll automatically be deemed as subject to SDC by HMRC and your Umbrella must determine otherwise with the help of the client
  • Greater compliance checks will be enforced
  • Other expenses you claim will be taxed under PAYE
  • By law you will have to submit a Self-Assessment Tax Return to obtain tax relief on other expenses
  • Umbrella charges may increase to pay for the additional compliance

 

So what are your options?

  • Be moved over into a Limited Company by your current Umbrella provider if (or when) they offer this service
  • Run the risk of other untested models designed to avoid the changes
  • Set up your own Limited Company
  • Return to permanent employment
  • Stay with your Umbrella and see if the model still works for you.

 

Many contractors work under an Umbrella because their services complement their professional requirements. But this is all about to change.

 

Umbrellas in their current form will need to implement major changes to the way they operate in preparation for April’s changes. What they will look like is as yet unknown, meaning they’ll be untested and unproven.

 

If contracting is a long term career choice, then it’s worth revisiting your options.

 

Tempted to go Limited?

If your current Umbrella provider is offering you their Limited Company services, it may be tempting (and seem easier) to stick with them. But you could end up paying more for a service that doesn’t meet your requirements. It’s worth checking out what specialist contractor accountants offer to make sure you’re getting the service you need to run your company smoothly and help you stay compliant.

 

We’ve compiled the essential checklist of what every Umbrella-to-Limited contractor should expect from their prospective service provider:

checklist

 

To help with your research why not download our essential checklist? You can do so by clicking on this link:  The essential checklist (104 downloads )

 

Final thoughts

Change is imminent, but it’s how you prepare yourself now that will put you in the best stead for April. Whatever decision you make, always ensure it’s the best one for you, both personally and professionally. Don’t be persuaded by your existing provider that their solution is your only choice.

Before you get caught up in your research, why not make use of our free take home pay calculator to give yourself an idea of how much you could be taking home as a Limited Company contractor.

 

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Drum roll please……Intouch runner up in 2015 Contractor UK Reader Awards

The Contractor UK Reader Awards

We are pleased to announce that we have won runner up in The Best Accountant (medium/small) category in the 2015 Contractor UK Reader Awards!

 

They are the only industry specific awards created by and voted for by the UK’s contracting community, which makes being placed extra special.

 

Paul Gough, MD of Intouch Accounting had the following to say upon hearing the news:

”We are delighted with the outcome of the 2015 Contractor UK Reader Awards. This award is so special to us, as it reflects the importance and high level of personal service and fantastic technology that our team provides to our clients. We extend our thanks to those who voted for us, this award is shared with you all.”

 

Another reason why Intouch clients are great!

We’d like to say a big THANK YOU to our clients who voted for us! Without you we wouldn’t have come second, so we’d very much like to thank you for the time you took to vote for us.

 

If you are serious about your contracting career and specialise in the IT sector, then the Contractor UK website is an excellent resource for industry news, insights and of course, their famous contractor forum, where you can talk to other contractors about anything and everything contractor related.

 

Recommend Intouch and receive £150 Amazon vouchers every time!

If you recommend a friend or colleague to Intouch Accounting, we’ll send you £150 of Amazon vouchers when they sign up. We’ll repeat this every time you refer us!

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

And the winner is…

And the winner is…

We recently ran a contractor insight survey with one of the UK’s top recruitment search engines for technology professionals.

 

The survey gave us a strong insight into the current contractor industry, from professionals who have either previously worked as contractors and are now back in permanent employment, or are currently contracting through their own Limited Company or using an Umbrella. The results from this survey will aid us in continuing to offer contractors the specialist advice, support and services they need in order to contract successfully.

 

Whilst we received lots of fantastic feedback, one lucky participant was picked at random to win £150 Amazon vouchers! We are pleased to announce that the winner is (drum roll please…..) Kulvinder Jhalli!

 

Kulvinder had this to say about winning, I’m so pleased to have won the vouchers! As a contractor it’s great to be able to give my feedback and feel like my opinions and experiences have been heard.

 

Congratulations to Kulvinder and a big thank you to everyone else who filled out our survey. We will be displaying the results in the upcoming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.

 

Wishing you all a very pleasant and peaceful festive period and New Year!

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

10 facts contractors need to know from today’s Finance Bill

The Finance Bill 2016 – why it’s good news for genuine PSC contractors…bad news for Umbrella workers, their clients and agencies.

Are you a contractor worried about changes to tax relief on travel and subsistence (T&S)? Concerned that you will lose out financially? The Autumn Statement announced that changes were on the way that could affect contractors/ freelancers. Today we’ve found out more and share what the changes in the law mean for Umbrella and personal service company (PSC) contractors.

 

Intouch is at the forefront of tax for contractors and Managing Director Paul Gough, with over 30 years experience in accounting and tax, has completed an initial analysis find out what the draft Finance Bill means to you.

In summary

PSCs who are truly independent and are not “disguised employees” (outside IR35) can still claim tax relief on T&S after April 2016.

 

This will not be the case for many Umbrella workers.

The relevant detail

Today’s publication of the draft Finance Bill 2016 sets out the detailed legislation and now makes these changes clearer:

  • If you are currently an Umbrella worker under the (or right of) supervision, direction or control (SDC) of the client or any party related to them then you cannot claim tax relief on T&S expenses from April 2016.
  • You are automatically deemed to be subject to SDC by HMRC; the Umbrella must determine otherwise with the help of the client.
  • Clients and agencies will have to provide information to help Umbrellas decide on the existence of SDC.
  • The only exception is where all services are conducted at the client’s home (domestic workers for instance).
  • If your employer (the Umbrella) gets this decision wrong then the Umbrella or its directors may have to pay any underpaid tax.
  • If your Umbrella does not pay the tax or the client or agency provide poor information they too may be on the line.
  • If you are an Umbrella worker not under SDC then you can claim T&S relief after 6 April 2016 (but not at source) unless new untested models work when wages are paid.
  • If you are a PSC (Limited Company contractor) and are outside of IR35 then it’s business as usual.
  • PSC contractors can claim T&S relief on travel to the client, and where they are outside of IR35.
  • If you are outside of IR35 then the SDC test is not applied – happy days!

 

HMRC has listened to stakeholders have made it clear with this draft legislation that PSC contractors working outside IR35 are indeed “self employed” and not the same as Umbrella workers.

 

They do enjoy different risks and rewards and as a consequence can claim tax relief for T&S costs.

 

So this is good news for anyone already running their own Limited Company or thinking about going Limited. For any Umbrella workers, it’s a good idea to start asking questions and consider your options so you aren’t forced into unwanted working practices come April 2016. In our next blog we’ll unpick what the Finance Bill 2016 means for contractors and give you ideas on actions you should consider.

 

Does today’s Finance Bill leave you more confident in contracting, or are you a worried Umbrella worker? Share with us how today’s announcements will affect you.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

George the Builder! Can he fix it? George the Builder, yes he can!

George the Builder!

Autumn Statement 2015

Were you panicking before yesterday’s Autumn Statement? Are you a contractor still trying to work out if little news is good news? We’ve scoured the official documents and applied our vast experience in the contractor market to unpick what yesterday’s speech means for you – and we’re pleased that what transpired was far less than was feared. So what did we actually learn from the Chancellor?

 

At 12:30 we, along with the rest of the contractor community, waited with baited breath to see what George Osborne had up his sleeve. He issued his Autumn Statement amongst a background of rumour and sanctioned leaks concerning changes to both Travel and Subsistence (T&S) and IR35. Whilst we know change is on it’s way, we got very little further clarity. By the time we had finished our sandwiches, the uncertainty that had dogged the industry had passed. We’ve analysed what we already know and our experience of how these things work to predict how we think IR35 and T&S will progress – you can read more about this in our Autumn Statement summary.

 

George the saviour?

Yesterday’s speech was made up of an Autumn Statement and a Spending Review –  among many rabbits Osborne pulled out of his hat we saw a U-turn in tax credits, protecting the police budget, half a trillion pounds being pumped into the NHS, investment in infrastructure…and a resounding silence in contractor specific issues such as IR35. In the weeks leading up to yesterday, there had been unprecedented speculation in the media and among the contractor community about what was expected to be a huge blow to Umbrella and personal service company (PSC) workers. Instead, what we heard was a loud sigh of relief from much of the temporary workforce.

 

Beyond the speech

We have long realised that it is not the speech that is the issue but the detailed documentation released afterwards. There were a vast number of publications and announcements that followed the Chancellor’s speech containing much greater detail to what was said.

 

On page 116 of the Blue Book you will find clause 3.20: a single, short paragraph of text setting out the decision on T&S for intermediaries – but once again this confirms that nothing has been confirmed!

 

Our Autumn Statement summary looks at the facts emerging from yesterday. But we know you’ll be most interested in making sense of possible future changes. So we’ve applied our years of experience and industry expertise to analyse what’s happening with IR35 and T&S, the role of supervision, direction and control (SDC) and our best prediction of where they are heading. Download it now.

 

Osborne: friend or foe?

Perhaps yesterday’s shock shows that the Chancellor has bigger fish to fry and he’s putting his energies in tackling the issues that he can actually sort to achieve a positive impact on our economy. It seems that, in the great scheme of things, IR35 (whilst dear to our hearts) comes below tax credits, working families, education, health, policing and security, affordable housing and the living wage. Osborne showed his commitment to protecting what people care about – defence, policing, healthcare – and in doing so may have actually paved the way for contractors who work in these industries. Finding £27bn down the back of the sofa will have no doubt helped!

 

UK plc cannot operate optimally without a flexible workforce and it’s reassuring to see that this government seem to have woken up to the harm they could cause by implementing ill-thought through changes.

 

What became clear yesterday is what was already feared by Umbrellas and if you’re contracting through one at the moment, you’re likely to have just lost your T&S expenses and it’s a good idea to consider your options. If you’re committed to contracting and want to continue enjoying the flexibility and maximise your take home pay, let us help you navigate your choices.

 

What’s next?

The next key date in the contractor diary is 9 December – the day when we’ll find out more about proposed legislation. Then we can more accurately assess the future landscape and plan the way forward for you. Rest assured, knowing we’re on hand to provide the clarity you need around announcements affecting UK contractors. Our clients know they can rely on us to make sense of any changes so they can focus on the job in hand.

 

We’re committed to contractors and work with over 2,000 every day. As an Intouch client you’ll get the best expert accountancy you need translated in a way you’ll understand. We’d love to tell you more – contact us today.

 

Does the Autumn Statement show Osborne as a friend to legitimate contractors, or a wolf ready to pounce when emotion recedes? Let us know your thoughts.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Industry holds its breath as IR35 discussion phase comes to an end

Industry holds its breath as IR35 discussion phase comes to an end

A couple of weeks ago, I summarised the research, industry discussions and viewpoints that went into the Intouch response to HMRC’s Employment Intermediaries and Tax Relief for Travel and Subsistence (T&S) consultation document.

 

The other hot topic on contractor’s lips has been the suggested reforms to Intermediaries Legislation (IR35), proposed in HMRC’s discussion document. Although at different stages, it is important to be aware of both documents as the changes to T&S will impact assessment of IR35 going forward. If you haven’t already, it’s worth reading my previous post to help set the scene.

 

Unlike the Travel and Subsistence consultation document – which is further down the line and gives us a steer of the likely direction things will go – the IR35 discussion document is very much ‘work in progress’. That puts us in a strong position as there is still a fight to be won.

 

At Intouch, our focus since the proposed changes were announced in July 2015 has been to gather industry opinion, contribute to the debate and advise our clients on establishing their IR35 position.

 

This summer might well come to be known as The Summer of Discontent for contractors, for the overwhelming viewpoints expressed during the discussion phase were of criticism and concern for the future.

 

This is why our response to the discussion document is so crucial. It is a chance for the views and ideas of contractors and all those involved in the temporary contract industry to be heard by the decision-makers currently deciding which changes to take forward. It also provides a platform to put forward suggestions for alternative recommendations.

 

We fully support measures intended to promote compliance and level the playing field and understand the challenges facing HMRC. As we emphasised in our response, the majority of PSC workers wish to be compliant, and indeed are, and pay the right amount of tax on time.

 

However, having reviewed the proposed reforms at length, our primary concern is that HMRC has not truly grasped the complexity and variable nature of the temporary contract landscape.

 

As I warned in a previous article, ‘Unlimited Shades of Grey as HMRC closes in on IR35 abusers,’ any over simplified change to the way PSCs are taxed could have the unintended consequence of wrongly applying employment tax to the genuinely self-employed PSC worker.

 

Whilst we have always agreed that the ‘bad eggs’ who deliberately ignore or manipulate IR35 legislation to take unfair advantage of the system should be flushed out, the current HMRC proposals fail to protect the vital role played by PSCs in boosting UK plc.

 

We are not alone in voicing these concerns. In a recent article, ‘Is HMRC listening?’, FSCA CEO Julia Kermode, says the proposed approach by HMRC to specifically target employment intermediaries on claiming tax relief is, “disproportionate, based on false understanding of the sector and will have a significant impact of the flexible workforce in the UK.”

 

As outlined in contractor news sites such as Contractor Weekly, the fear is that contractor rates will start to rise  to cover the differential in tax paid.

 

So what’s the answer? Our response document concludes with a set of guiding principles and recommendations we believe will make IR35 more effective in protecting the Exchequer. A summary review of the Intouch response to both the IR35 discussion and Travel and Subsistence consultation documents can be found in our IR35 and T&S: Proposed changes ebrief.

 

Last month, The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) put forward a new approach to tackling IR35 abusers, which rejects the ‘Supervision, Direction or Control’ test. CIOT believe this is unlikely to improve compliance and suggests a better alternative could be to introduce an annual reporting obligation on organisations that engage contractors. This would involve the PSC making an initial assessment as to whether or not it considers that IR35 applies and the engager then reporting to HMRC whether or not it agrees.

 

Now the deadline for responding has passed and the industry can do no more but wait to see whether our voices were heard. I expect the IR35 consultation document that follows next will have scant regard to the input from industry experts and fail to explore or even contemplate being distracted from the ultimate goal of increasing the “tax take”.

 

It may try and align the tests for determining employment status with those for claiming travel expenses which, in my opinion, would be a huge mistake. HMRC are trying to solve a difficult problem with a simple solution but if a simple solution were the best solution it would have been obvious years ago.

 

So as the industry holds its breath, it is important to stay calm and try not to panic about the future for PSCs. Although it is of course a consideration, there is more to life than tax relief and most contractors don’t work through a Limited Company for this reason alone.

 

Working through a Limited Company opens up a host of other benefits such as freedom and control over working conditions, flexibility around family life and of course the possibility of securing a higher day rate. A more detailed overview of the benefits to be enjoyed from setting up a Limited Company can be found in our popular guide Limited Company or Umbrella – which is the right choice for you?

 

If you are unsure where you stand in the debate, or would like to know more about how the proposed may affect you, our expert contractor accountants can help you. Speak to us today on 01202 375 562 or email enquiries@intouchaccounting.com.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Intouch Accounting celebrate National Freelancers’ Day

Happy National Freelancers Day!

If you’re one of the five million freelancers currently working within the UK, then today is all about you. Here at Intouch Accounting we recognise the invaluable contribution freelancers make to the UK economy and so we are helping celebrate by having a ‘freelancer day’ at the Intouch office.

 

Whilst the Intouch team are blissfully happy looking after the needs of our clients, we wanted to have a bit of fun and celebrate today in our own way. So we put our heads together and decided to come in dressed as the freelancer we’d be if we weren’t accountants!

 

Take a look below to see if you can guess what each person would be:

 

National Freelancers' Day

 

 

Every year NFD is celebrated and hosted by IPSE and this year’s event will be held at the exclusive Hospital Club in Covent Garden to showcase and celebrate the UK’s most ambitious, exciting and aspiring freelancers. IPSE will be awarding 15 of the best self-employed individuals and crowning one winner in particular.

 

There’s also a separate award for under 23s (the Aspire Award) and one for the veteran freelancers (the Inspire Award). The winner of the Aspire award will win £3,000 along with a technology bundle and the winner of the Inspire Award will win £5,000!

 

From all of us here at Intouch Accounting we’d like to offer our best wishes for all who are taking part and many congratulations to the winners and runners up. Have a fantastic night everyone!

 

If you’re considering freelancing or have already taken the leap, ensuring that you maximise your take home pay whilst remaining compliant will be at the top of your priority list. If you’re struggling with doing your accounts by yourself, or are currently using an Umbrella company that’s leaving you out of pocket, call our team today on 01202 375 562 to discuss your options.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

The time has come for HMRC to pay attention and change tack

The time has come for HMRC to pay attention and change tack

If you work in or with the contracting industry, you won’t have been able to miss the concern and speculation surrounding HMRC’s proposed reforms to the way contractors and freelancers are taxed.

 

In the months that followed the Chancellor’s announcement that this was to be reviewed in an attempt to ‘level the playing field’ and flush out abuse, the contractor industry has been shouting its concerns from the rooftops.

 

At the heart of the matter are two key documents; HMRC’s Intermediaries Legislation (IR35) discussion document and the hotly debated Employment Intermediaries and Tax Relief for Travel and Subsistence consultation document.

 

Last month, the CEO of FSCA, Julia Kermode, wrote a blog post ‘Is HMRC listening?’ in which she strongly set out the flaws in HMRC’s calculations. And she raised a good question, as after reviewing the consultation document it would be easy to worry that the views of genuine and compliant flexible workers expressed during the discussion phase did not get through.

 

Now the closing date for responding to both documents has passed, HMRC is no doubt head down in a pile of paperwork in which the contractor industry has tried again to get its fears and suggestions heard.

 

The most advanced of these proposals is the consultation document regarding Employment Intermediaries and Tax Relief for Travel and Subsistence. In it, HMRC sets out its proposal to remove home-to-work travel and subsistence (T&S) tax relief where a worker is employed through an employment intermediary and under the supervision, direction or control (SDC) of any person.

 

Once proposals such as these reach consultation stage, they are usually a pretty reliable indicator of which direction the reforms will go. Which is why our official response to the document makes no bones about the fact we don’t believe it will deliver on HMRC’s intended aims without unintended and costly consequences.

 

Having spent a great deal of time speaking to our personal service company (PSC) clients, contributing to industry commentary and working closely with membership and trade bodies such as IPSE and FSCA, we strongly believe that the proposals are disproportionate, over simplified, and will negatively impact the UK’s highly valuable, flexible labour supply market. The end result is likely to add an excessive burden on smaller and medium size businesses.

 

The Intouch response is clear; the majority of UK contractors wish to be compliant and already ensure they are paying the right amount of tax at the right time. Our fear is that, as the proposal stands, even the most compliant of PSC contractors will end up losing out in one form or another.

 

We, along with so many others, have real concerns over the proposed options for the ‘transfer of liability’. This is an ill-thought out plan to put the burden of determining tax status onto the engager and is likely to have a number of negative consequences. Not least of these could be the application of risk averse measures by UK plc, resulting in a restricted labour market and causing wider economic consequences.

 

Another contentious reform is making personal service and the exercise (or right to) SDC the only criteria HMRC will consider when ensuring the appropriate application for the new T&S rules. Under the current application of IR35, a broader range of factors are considered when deciding a contractor’s tax status. I talked about this on the Intouch blog earlier in the summer and will be writing more about our response to the IR35 discussion document next week.

 

Recruitment website FirstPerson has already warned the proposals could put pressure on rates if workers who fail the SDC test suffer a fall in income.

 

The crumbling icing on the cake is the suggestion that engagers should, in effect, determine availability of tax relief. Our response outlined a number of concerns with this proposal and these can be viewed in more detail in our IR35 and T&S: Proposed changes ebrief.

 

The industry forums are awash with speculation over what will happen should the proposed changes be implemented in April 2016. Some contractors fear clients will automatically consider everyone is under SDC in order to safeguard their position or may even refuse to engage them altogether to avoid the risk

 

Whilst we don’t believe that the reforms outlined in the consultation document have been thought through enough to work, we do agree that something needs to be done to better outlaw false self-employments and the use of abusive models to achieve tax relief where it is not due.

 

It is time for HMRC and the Chancellor to take heed of industry concerns and be brave enough not just to listen, but to go back to the drawing board and change tack.

 

If you are unsure where you stand in the debate, or would like to know more about how the proposed changes to tax relief may affect you, our expert contractor accountants can help you. Speak to us today on 01202 375562  or email enquiries@intouchaccounting.com.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.