Contracting and IR35
Written by the «Professional Contractors Group»
IR35 was announced in 1999 as an anti-avoidance measure. It seeks to deny that freelance contractors are genuinely in business and to tax them as employees without establishing a proper employment relationship. Its extraordinary complexity makes it almost impossible for contractors to assess whether they fall within it or not - in some cases their status may rest on contracts they have never seen.
PCG was originally formed in response to IR35 by a group of contractors who realised that, if it had been in place earlier, they would not have been able to start their own businesses. Its unfairness and complexity remain the biggest single grievance and difficulty for freelance contractors.
Since IR35 came into effect, PCG has supported numerous cases in order to establish as much clarity as possible. This strategy has been successful: IR35 remains complex, but with effort and good advice it is possible to structure commercial relationships with clients that are outside IR35. Recent cases have threatened this, however, and PCG continues to support its members in court to maintain the defence against IR35 wherever possible.
In 2008, the High Court rejected the appeal of Dragonfly Consultancy Ltd in the first significant IR35 case for some years. The case had potentially significant implications for IR35 defences, although subsequent analysis showed that overall it emphasised the importance of following previous advice closely, and did not undermine fatally anyone's prospects of working outside IR35. PCG's authoritative Guide to IR35 has been updated to reflect this. See also PCG's initial press release and analysis by Egos.
The case of Larkstar Data Ltd is being re-heard in 2009, following a ruling by the High Court upholding an appeal by HMRC.
PCG was formed in 1999 to protest against the Government's IR35 proposals. The organisation has come a long way since then, but IR35 remains a major issue for members. This document offers a brief overview of IR35.
A full consideration of IR35 from the contractor’s perspective: includes advice on how to decide whether or not you are caught and what action to take, plus an up-to-date assessment of the current legal position. This Guide was updated in December 2008 to include the consequences of the Dragonfly case.
Available to PCG members only – see the Seller offers page for a special offer on PCG membership.
IR35 has now been in operation sufficiently long for its efficacy to be assessed. It is clear that by any sensible measure, it has been a failure.
Analysis of the High Court judgment by Roger Sinclair of Egos
A transcript of the High Court's ruling
A summary of the key facts in the Dragonfly case prior to the High Court hearing in June 2008.
PCG and Accountax have developed a scheme that will enable many freelancers who have paid up under IR35 to claim back their tax paid.
PCG – «Professional Contractors Group» – has a large archive of IR35 information.
The Professional Contractors Group (PCG) is a not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of consultants, contractors and freelancers. It campaigns on issues that matter to the freelancing community, irrespective of industry focus.
‘PCG’s aim is to work for proper recognition of independent consultants, contractors and freelancers as a genuine and valuable sector of the economy, generating wealth and employment, providing industry with a flexible workforce.’
PCG is offering all registered people4business Sellers a 15% discount on membership – see the Seller offers page.
last updated 13.05.09
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