Delay April’s off-payroll rules? The taxman’s own figures make the case

I registered for HMRC’s ‘Agent Engagement’ webinar on the new off-payroll rules, which took place on Wednesday, just to be sure I have not missed any important details about the reformed IR35, writes Kate Cottrell of status advisory Bauer & Cottrell.

During the webinar, HMRC presented four straw polls for participants. I do not know who participated but HMRC stated that there were more than 1,000 ‘agents’ taking part. 

The questions and results were as follows – and remember, these are from the very parties who are advising businesses about the April 6th IR35 reforms.

1. How confident are you in making a Status Determination Statement (SDS)?

83% responded

HIGHLY – 9%

CONFIDENT – 40%

NOT CONFIDENT – 50%

2. Have you ever used CEST?

85% responded

YES – 45%

NO – 39%

Have never heard of it before today – 16%

3. Have you already taken any steps to prepare for theses changes to the operation of the Off-Payroll working rules?

85% responded

YES – 51%

NO – 49%

4. Do you know how many individuals you currently engage who provide services through an intermediary?

72% responded

YES – 59%

NO – 41%

So as of February 19th 2020 with just six weeks to go before the reform ,50% are not confident in making a SDS, 39% have never used CEST and very worryingly 16% had never even heard of CEST. Forty-nine per cent have done nothing at all about the new IR35 rules and 41% don’t even know how many PSC users the organisation engages.

These pretty damning findings support what everyone in the contractor industry is shouting from the rooftops, including what people and professionals are telling the House of Lords inquiry (which closes for contributions on Wednesday).

Now, will HMRC report back to the government these alarming figures from its webinar?  Let’s hope so. The new rules should be abandoned or at least delayed.

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Written by Kate Cottrell

Kate Cottrell from Bauer & Cottrell Limited - leading UK IR35 expert who has been contributing IR35 guidance, commentary and articles to ContractorUK for many years.
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