Contractor sector unsure about Spring Statement 2018

Advisers to contractors are divided in their expectations of tomorrow's Spring Statement 2018, ranging from a ‘non-event' for PSCs -- to the publication of the IR35 consultation.

Both are not mutually exclusive however. The statement itself could contain only macro-economic details, and the consultation on IR35 reform could be unveiled alongside it.

But personal finance changes aren’t due. “The Spring Statement’s going to be very short…so there will be no personal finance implications,” says Hargreaves Lansdown’s Laith Khalaf.

In a statement to ContractorUK, he explained: “The full Budget has now been moved to Autumn, so that will be the fiscal centrepiece going forward.”

Made by Philip Hammond in 2016, the change-around is regarded by contractor accountants ADVANCE as a sign that a much more low-key set of announcements should probably be planned for.

However, it is how very busy officials around the chancellor have been this year that make another adviser believe there's been no time to steer him on how IR35 should change.

“With the amount of work HMRC and BEIS have to do together on aligning tax and employment status [due to February’s Taylor Review], I can’t see how Hammond will have been given any advice,” says Carolyn Walsh of CWC Accounting Solutions.

“[So] my first guess would be no mention at all [of the IR35 consultation tomorrow]. My second guess -- a regurgitation of ‘disguised employment is not fair’ and a vague reference to doing something about it.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, another adviser said she took the opposite view.

She thinks that precisely because BEIS and HMRC have had to already launch a consultation on employment status, officials would have needed to touch upon -- or even internally propose, the fate of IR35.

Contracting body IPSE sounds concerned regardless of when the consultation is officially opened. “The chancellor [last year] announced a series of consultations – one of which related to reforming IR35 in the private sector.

“At the Spring Statement, we could hear developments on the consultation, which we hope accurately reflects the damage we know the changes have had in the public sector,” it said.

Orange Genie is also trying to set aside the uncertainty of ‘when,’ preferring instead to assess the financial damage that extending the public sector’s April 2017 reforms could cause private sector PSCs.

Also exclusively in an article for ContractorUK today, the contractor accounting firm issues advice to PSCs, such as making clients aware of the possible extension and drawing up ‘Conformation of Arrangements’ documents.

“If HMRC continues on their current course we should expect the same off-payroll changes to be introduced into the private sector in April 2019,” the firm’s chief executive Graham Fisher has said.

“[So it would] coincide with Brexit. A good month to bury bad news? In the unlikely event that they recognise the failure of the public sector implementation, any changes might be delayed to 2020.”

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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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