Free webinar: How Budget 2018 affects you and IR35

When Philip Hammond delivers Budget 2018 this coming Monday (October 29th), the contracting community will have one burning question, writes Helen Christopher, operations director at Orange Genie. Will he announce private sector IR35 reform?

Most expect the reform to mirror the 2017 public sector changes, meaning those hiring contractors would be responsible for assessing IR35 status rather than contractors themselves.

Commentators are divided on whether reform will be launched in April 2019 or be held back until 2020. It’s worth noting, though, that debate centres around when, not if, the reform will happen.

Those who expect a delay point to internal pressures surrounding Brexit, theorising that any bold policy change could goad rebel MPs into voting the Budget down. Far safer, they say, to save it for a less contentious moment. We can also hope IR35 reform is held back for the sake of the economy, given the massive uncertainties UK Plc is already set to face.

There are others who believe fiscal pressure will tempt the chancellor into adopting the earlier timetable. An easy-win, such as the projected and estimated £1billion in additional revenue from private sector IR35 reform, could be difficult for Mr Hammond to resist.

We’d like to believe that sense will prevail and IR35 reform will be delayed but, in the end, it makes little difference. Reform of IR35 is coming and contractors, recruiters and clients alike must act now to protect themselves.

HMRC has pointed to £410 million in increased tax receipts as proof that public-sector reform was successful. That much of the additional revenue came from contractors who were incorrectly forced inside IR35 by badly prepared public sector bodies is, it seems, beside the point. Cynical observers may suggest that it was this lack of preparedness, coupled with the absence of a workable appeals process, that made the public sector reform so ‘successful.’ So, would giving the private sector more time to prepare be a good or a bad idea?

We join many others in hoping the industry is given more time, but even if we get a respite, there’s a lot of work to be done to avoid the chaos we saw in the public sector. Whether the second IR35 bomb is detonated in April 2019 or 2020, contractors, and the businesses that rely on them, need to take steps now to protect both themselves and their income.

On Tuesday October 30th, the day after the Budget, we at Orange Genie will be holding a free webinar for ContractorUK readers, providing you with our expert analysis of how the Budget affects contractors. And most crucially, we’ll be sharing our latest best-practice advice on how to survive private sector IR35 reform. Click to register and reserve your place.

Update - Watch the webinar here:

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