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Start contracting with confidence in 2018

Posted by: Zoe Brandt | 09.01.18

Starting a long-term career as a contractor or freelancer in 2018 has become more attractive than during any time in the last two years. If you’re looking for independence and have a skill set that matches increasing current demand, then it’s possible to both ‘have your cake and eat it’, in 2018!


Clarity of employment status

The turmoil that was predicted from the middle of 2017 regarding changes to IR35 (the legislation that determines your employment status and therefore your potential tax efficiency as a contractor) has not materialised. The possibility of further IR35 change in the private sector has been deferred until the public sector changes can be reviewed and lessons learned.

Meanwhile, day rates are also stabilising as employers who sought to pass the burden of employer’s National Insurance contributions entirely onto workers are experiencing resistance.

HMRC’s employment status tool (CEST: ‘Check Employment Status for Tax’) also helps; it’s not perfect, and it’s still advisable to take professional IR35 advice, but when answered openly the questions provide a pretty accurate answer.

This increased level of clarity puts the contractor in the perfect position to grasp the opportunity, and begin to enjoy the freedoms of freelancing – all good reasons to rejoice in 2018!


Demand for skills

Brexit and other Government promises to deliver on infrastructure projects and technology change, are creating huge demand for IT and related skills across the UK.

Employers are still preferring to keep employment costs under their control by engaging flexible workers, under flexible or zero-hour contracts. And anti-avoidance rules are also settling down with engagers being more pragmatic and accommodating (rather than issuing blanket edicts) in order to attract and retain talent.

All good news for the 2018 contractor.


Taking the leap into Limited

Are you ready to have your cake and eat it? Embrace the quality of life, freedom and flexibility of being your own boss, as well as increased take home pay?

If so, there are always choices of which trading model you should trade under. As a rule of thumb (only – there are always exceptions), you should consider the following:

Semi or low-skilled workers – If you are semi or low-skilled or provided services at or near the National Minimum Wage, then using a Limited Company is not likely to be the most suitable vehicle for a number of reasons. If you’re in this category and being put under pressure to go limited, you should take independent advice.

If you’re able to choose your preferred solution, then an Umbrella organisation should give you good advice. Beware the shady Umbrellas (pun intended) though – FCSA accreditation is a must. For others with perhaps fewer expenses that can be claimed, the best solution may well be to use a simple payroll bureau, where the fees you pay are lower and the rights you get more comprehensive.


Skilled or ‘Knowledge Workers’ – If you’re a ‘Knowledge Worker’ or skilled in a particular trade or profession, then a Limited Company can provide you with the best solution from several perspectives. For individuals who are independent and outside of the supervision, direction or control of the hirer, there will be advantages in your take home pay. You’ll have increased flexibility and commercial credibility, but you’ll have to protect yourself for illness or inability to work (usually through insurances). Ask for assistance from a contractor accounting professional from the beginning and get off to a good start.


Contracting advice from experts

If you’re thinking of setting up as a Limited Company contractor, Intouch can offer more than just an accounting service. From set-up and insurance to tax and IR35 advice, your Personal Accountant will be there to help you start your journey with confidence. We know that taking your first step into contracting is a big decision so we’re happy to chat through any questions you have even if you’re not ready to get going just yet.


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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.