HMRC clarifies IR35 rules

HMRC said it will only apply the rules retrospectively in cases of suspected fraud or criminal behaviour.

The off-payroll rules (IR35) are going to be extended across the private sector from April 2020, bringing larger companies under the regulatory framework, currently only mandatory in the public sector.

Under changes which already apply to the public sector, responsibility for deciding the employment status of a contractor who supplies their services via a personal services company (PSC) will shift from the individual to the organisation hiring them, with effect from 6 April 2020.

In a briefing note issued this week, HMRC says it has taken the decision that it will only use information resulting from these changes to open a new enquiry into earlier years if there is reason to suspect fraud or criminal behaviour.

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has welcomed the move, pointing out that the off-payroll rules are complex to apply and many contractors are concerned that if their engager reaches a different conclusion from them – or simply makes a blanket decision that all its contractors are within the off-payroll rules to reduce their own tax risk – HMRC might use the change in reported status as a reason to enquire into the contractor’s tax affairs from previous years.

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