Where an individual works through his or her own personal company to provide services, such as IT consultancy, that company must abide by the “IR35” rules, which HMRC calls “off-payroll working”.

IR35 requires the individual to check whether he would be treated as an employee of his customer if his personal company and any other intermediaries did not exist in the supply chain. If the relationship with the customer is effective employment, the income from the contract should be treated by the personal company as the individual’s salary, subject to PAYE and NIC.

For contracts in the public sector, the final customer (the public body) makes the decision about the IR35 status of the contractor. Where IR35 applies the fee-payer in the supply chain should deduct income tax under PAYE and employees’ NIC at 12% from the amount invoiced by the personal company. Some public bodies have also incorrectly deducted employer’s NIC at 13.8% from the invoiced amount.

HMRC is convinced that many small companies in the private sector do not follow the IR35 rules to the letter, as by remaining outside of IR35 the individual retains more income from his company. HMRC has proposed that large businesses in the private sector should make the IR35 status decision on behalf of their contractors.

This switch will apply from 6 April 2020, but only where the final customer is a medium-sized or large business. If you contract through your own company, you should start planning for this change now.

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