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Contractor sector sceptical of potential tax cuts from an under pressure Boris Johnson

Contractors being potentially among the one in three adults who can afford basics but not always luxuries isn’t making the contractor sector into Boris Johnson’s whispered tax cuts.

Reportedly recommended to the prime minister as a way to heal rifts after he narrowly survived a confidence vote, any tax cuts would usually be embraced by contractors.

After all, contractors are “up against IR35 reform, dividend tax rises and [potentially] an incoming hike to corporation tax,” Qdos’s Nicole Slowey pointed out yesterday.

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‘Token gesture’
But another specialist in contractor taxation, Graham Webber of WTT Consulting, says he expects any tax cut from Mr Johnson to be only a “token gesture”.

The PM’s trying political circumstances, plus the government’s tendency to legislate against contractors rather than incentivise it via tax cuts, makes his expectation creditable.

But in a thread featuring both the tax specialists, a Test Analyst said that if any of the tax cuts resemble Spring Statement’s 5p cut in fuel duty, the government can “keep it.”

‘Forced bribe’
“At this stage [from Mr Johnson], it would be a forced bribe,” said the analyst, a self-employed contractor. “It would only be announced to make Boris look better, not to help us”.

The prospect of tax cuts has prompted Mr Johnson’s most supportive national newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, to identify a fuel duty reduction as the most important of five he may make.

The right-leaning broadsheet said a close second would be for the PM to abolish the 5% VAT charge on heating fuels — as Mr Johnson has previously promised to do.

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‘Attacks on contractors’
Yet a consultant posted yesterday that it’s not ever Number 10’s decision to cut taxes – it’s Number 11’s.

“[Chancellor] Rishi [Sunak] and the Treasury are in charge of taxes, not Boris,” the consultant said.

“[Following the many] broken promises and attacks on contractors over the last few years, it will take a lot [for either Mr Sunak or Mr Johnson] to win back support — and trust.”

‘Government handling taxation badly’
A YouGov reading of June 2nd shows 69% of adults believe the government to be handling of the issue of taxation “badly.”

Income tax is the levy which people would least like to be increased by the government, followed by council tax, and then National Insurance, the pollster found in May.

Speaking since the findings, Keith Gordon QC has pinpointed what he would most like to see in relation to the contractor sector’s most notorious tax rule.

In a phone-in with LBC about the off-payroll rules, the tax barrister said: “I hope someone will go back to the drawing board and decide IR35 is not fit for purpose.”

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‘Unwelcome letters from HMRC’
A revoking of the Intermediaries legislation is even more of an outside bet than tax cuts from the prime minister, so accountants say it’s ‘business as usual’ this tax return season.

“With tax returns on the mind of many pro-active taxpayers, something often forgotten on the tax returns of those submitting early, is benefits-in-kind,” advises Adam Dove, senior client accountant at Orange Genie.

“With P11Ds not due for submission until July 6th 2022, it is important to ensure your employer has submitted your P11D and you have the details before you complete your self-assessment tax return, to avoid any unwelcome letters from HMRC with amendments, interest and, or, penalties.”

By Simon Moore

Source: Contractor UK

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IR35 is the biggest threat to the contractor working model, survey finds

The majority of contractors see the UK’s IR35 changes to the way employment status is judged as the biggest threat to their business in 2022, according to recent research.

A survey of more than 1,200 contractors by IR35 insurance provider Qdos shows that 61 per cent see the rule changes as the “biggest threat” to the contracting business model, which is said to be worth more than £300bn annually to the economy, according to the IPSE, the contractors, consultants and interims association.

Qdos found this was more than 10 times the number of contractors most concerned about the impact of coronavirus (6 per cent) or Brexit (6 per cent). Incoming dividend tax increases (18 per cent) were earmarked as the second biggest threat, although only a third of folk surveyed were concerned about those changes.

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The introduction of IR35 reform to the private sector on 6 April 2021 saw the responsibility for assessing IR35 status shift from the contractor to the medium or large business engaging them. As part of this reform, which mirrors changes introduced in the public sector in 2017, the liability also shifted, from the contractor to the fee-paying party in the supply chain (either the recruitment agency or client).

Qdos CEO Seb Maley said: “IR35 reform has created a plethora of challenges for contractors, jeopardising this way of working for thousands. The fact that contractors still see IR35 as the stand-out threat in 2022 – and by some distance – tells you everything you need to know about the journey ahead, along with the progress that needs to be made this year.

“Not only will this see businesses struggle to attract the flexible talent they need to recover from the pandemic, but forcing genuinely self-employed people onto the payroll will also result in significant and needless cost rises.”

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Qdos’s research found that 39 per cent were “confident” about their prospects for 2022. However, 37 per cent were either “concerned” or “very concerned.” There was an 83 per cent rise in contractors deemed outside IR35 by their clients from April to November 2021.

Even the government’s own departments are having trouble with IR35. In December it was revealed that guidance from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs’ employment checker tool had led to wrong calls on the tax status of freelance workers, costing £120m across two Whitehall departments.

Financial reports from the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show they face combined additional tax bills of at least £121m due to incorrectly determining the status of their contractors, despite following HMRC’s “accompanying guidance” and using HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool.

IPSE research from October 2021 found 35 per cent of contractors in the UK had become permanent employees, retired, shifted to work overseas or are “simply not working” since IR35 tax legislation was revised in April 2021.

By Lindsay Clark

Source: The Register

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Thousands of companies throughout the UK may be breaking IR35 rules

Thousands of companies throughout the UK may be breaking the IR35 rules when it comes to reviewing the status of the freelance contractors who work for them, say tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg. The warning comes at the end of National payroll week and Robert Salter a client service director with the firm.

Since April Companies are required to assess whether each contractor is working in a pattern which is ‘akin to that of an employee’ unless they are exempt from the IR35 requirements as small enterprises.

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Businesses are now legally obliged to account for PAYE and NICs on the invoices it receives from PSCs rather than simply paying them on a gross basis, where the contractor is held to be a ‘deemed employee’ of the end business. Failures by the businesses using freelance contractors in this regard can result in the business being liable to Interest and penalty charges in respect of the underpaid tax (with penalties potentially being as high as 100% in some scenarios. They must account for the PAYE which should have been accounted for and are liable to employee and employer NICs on the invoices.

Although the new legislation has been in place since April many businesses who are impacted by the IR35 changes are actually either (a) totally unaware of the new regulations, or (b) have not been able to invest in training staff vis-à-vis their obligations in this area and the obligations which one needs to meet, to protect the business from unwelcome tax and NIC charges.

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Whilst these shortcomings are inevitable given the pressures businesses have been experiencing with Covid and the underlying difficulties associated with the core regulations – which are hard to understand and apply in practice – such factors will not provide businesses with any meaningful ‘defence’ in the case of a formal Revenue enquiry into this area.

Moreover, businesses need to realize that HMRC teams have been staffed to specifically address this issue on a going forward basis, so the chance of receiving future enquiries in this regard are significant for most businesses.

On an going forward basis, businesses should – if they haven’t already – start reviewing the position of their contract employees and ensuring that these reviews are clearly documented. If this delayed review does highlight any problems, they should discuss the position with their advisors as a matter of urgency. If they don’t, they risk getting into even more problems and difficulties over the coming months and years.

By Barney Cotton

Source: Business Leader

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