Taxman releases IR35 Helpline figures

Four of the 32 recommendations the IR35 Forum made in its administrative review of IR35 concern the IR35 Helpline, set up in 2000.

Although none of the four were accepted by HMRC, the department has released previously unseen data relating to the Helpline.

No reasons in the IR35 Review to explain the release of the data, reproduced below, were given by HMRC.

However the tax authority did reiterate the need to publicise the helpline to greater effect, as suggested last year by the Personal Service Companies Committee.

Volume of calls

The IR35 Helpline receives on average between 900 and 1200 calls per annum. During the year 2012/2013, the number of queries received was 1192. For the year 2013/2014 the number of calls received by the helpline was 942.

Length of calls

Calls to the IR35 Helpline line can take up to 45 minutes but many only take a few minutes depending on the type of query involved. The advisers are not subject to any time constraints and customers should be assured that the adviser may speak with them for as long as the query takes.

Types of query received

While the types of query received by the helpline can be anything relating to IR35, HMRC categorise the queries for 2013/14 as follows:

Query Type Number
Basic query/understanding IR35 361
Opinion process 208
Deemed payment 110
Q6 on P35 46
Business Entity Tests 29
Redirected (not IR35 related) 188

Responses from HMRC

Responses from HMRC to callers are generally provided verbally unless the customer requires an opinion or further guidance in writing. The helpline team can and do provide a verbal “view” (as opposed to a written Opinion) if the request is a verbal one. 99% of enquiries are dealt with on the same day even where further research is  required by the HMRC adviser.  85% are dealt with over the phone with the other 5% being dealt with via email.

Who calls the help line?

Callers to the helpline mainly consist of personal service company directors, or partners in partnerships (in certain circumstances, a partnership can be an intermediary potentially subject to IR35), but can also come from any small business owner or adviser.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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