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Calls to delay to controversial IR35 legislation
by Susie Hughes at 12:05 30/10/19 (News on IR35)
With a cancelled Budget, a December election and a delayed Brexit decision, it comes as no surprise that freelancer groups are calling for a postponement to the controversial IR35 legislation.
They argue that there will be little or no time for businesses, contractors and agencies to come to terms with the detail of legislation.

But there are, at present, no indications that the Treasury is for turning, and the change to the 'off-payroll rules' is still scheduled for April 2020.

The Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) says that the longer the delay to the Budget and Finance Bill, the longer businesses will have to wait for the final legislation which will introduce these controversial changes – leaving businesses with a greatly reduced and unrealistically short time frame in which to adapt to the changes.

If the rules are implemented as proposed in the draft legislation then, from April 6 2020, responsibility for determining whether an engagement falls within the off-payroll rules will move from the worker’s personal service company (PSC) to the client (the business which requires the worker’s services). The party which pays the PSC (which may be the client, or an agency depending on the commercial arrangements) will then be required to operate PAYE and NICs as appropriate.

Lack of details
The lack of final legislation and detailed guidance combined with the current absence of an updated version of HMRC’s much maligned Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) mean that there is a real lack of clarity as to how the off-payroll rules will operate in practice in the private sector.

The ATT says this makes it near impossible for businesses to make adequate preparations. Under the current timetable there remains only a little over five months for businesses to get ready and this at a time when many will be preparing for or responding to the implications of Brexit.

Jon Stride from ATT said: “We strongly urge the Government to delay this major shift in how businesses engage with contractors until 2021.

“Many important practical issues, such as when liability can be transferred within an engagement supply chain and exactly what information will need to be shared by clients, are not addressed in the draft legislation at all. We have also seen only limited evidence of any HMRC education and information campaigns so far.

“Without a delay, we anticipate low levels of compliance and increased numbers of errors, and greater demand on HMRC telephone lines and HMRC staff for support at a time when their resources are already strained. We may also see risk-averse positions being taken by businesses, for example, a blanket decision to put all workers onto the payroll regardless of the nature of the arrangements, to the detriment of workers.

“The Government has previously stated that they were committed to learning from the rushed introduction of these rules to the public sector in 2017. We believe that introducing the off-payroll rules to the private sector in April 2020, when final legislation and detailed guidance are not yet available, risks repeating the errors made in the public sector, rather than learning from them.”

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 2019

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Calls to delay to controversia... Susie Hughes - 30/10
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