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Fears that calls for IR35 reform fall on deaf ears
by Susie Hughes at 10:53 01/03/23 (News on IR35)
With just two weeks to the Spring Budget, even the most optimistic IR35 reformers are finding it difficult to convince themselves there will be any positive changes on the horizon.
The past few years of turmoil within the Conservative Party have led to changes of policy, and hopes and dreams shattered as frequently as the Cabinet changed places in their game of political musical chairs.

Since the original IR35 was introduced in 1999, there have been annual calls around Budget-time for reform or removal of the controversial contractor tax. To date they have fallen on deaf ears from whichever Party was in power.

In fact, the only signficiant changes have been tightening up the IR35 powers - now known as 'off payroll rules' - in 2017 in the public sector and 2021 in the private sector, with the latter being led by the then Chancellor and now Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.

These controversial changes put the responsiblity for determining IR35 status on the end-client rather than the contractor leading to a raft of flawed and over-cautious determinations.

There was a glimmer of hope for contractors when Liz Truss took over the reins at Number 10 and promised, in her controversial mini-Budget, that the IR35 reform would be repealed in April 2023. That promise was as short-lived as was her tenure as Prime Minister.

Bad deal
But there remains calls for changes - though realistically more in hope than expectation. Conservative MP, Sir John Redwood, the elder statesman of the low-tax free enterprise agenda is among those urging the Cabinet to review and reverse the changes.

Speaking recently to Sky News, Sir John highlighted his belief that 'the self-employed are getting a very bad deal.'

He said: “I think we should reverse the 2017 and 2021 changes to the so-called IR35. We want to promote more self-employment – make it easier for people to get into self-employment. That is the quickest way to expand capacity">.

Freelancer tax insurers, Qdos, added their voice to the calls, saying that IR35 would be 'fair' and 'logical' and that 'millions will welcome Sir John's comments'.

Qdos CEO, Seb Maley, said: “Whichever way you look at it, IR35 reform has damaged flexible working in the UK.

“Rishi Sunak himself saw through IR35 reform in the private sector when Chancellor. So he’s no stranger to this legislation, nor the challenges it has created.

“Reversing IR35 reform would be the fair and logical thing to do. However, when it comes to IR35, the Government has been anything but fair and logical.”

The Spring Budget will take place on March 15, 2023 and Shout99 will be covering the announcements relevant to contractors and freelancers.

Further IR35 information
For more information about all aspects of IR35, including the controversial IR35 reforms see Shout99's News on IR35 section.

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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2023

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