We have a new concept of disguised contractors.
The reason that the Government brought in IR35 in 1999 was because they believed that many contractors were just disguised employees. Many companies were laying off permanent workers on the Friday and they were starting in the same job on the Monday as contractors.
This saved the company money in taxation and NI contributions and gave the companies a more flexible workforce. They could lay off these new contractors without redundancy payments when times were tight. They could, maybe, hire them again when things picked up.
It was good for the new contractors, as well. They could offset a lot of things against tax that they couldn’t before. It was a win-win situation. Rather it was a win-win-lose situation with the Government / HMRC / taxpayer as the loser.
The Government, and HMRC, quite rightly saw these as disguised employees. It was a scam – a tax avoidance scam.
However, the law that the Government brought in, IR35, caught not only those disguised employee contractors in its nets but tens of thousands of contractors who had been operating, quite legally, as Limited Company contractors for years. It is still catching them in their IR35 nets.
The Government hadn’t meant to in the first place. However, when they saw the extra revenue brought in they decided they quite liked that. When the Conservatives were in opposition they gave winks and nods to the PCG about abolishing IR35.
Looked At IR35 Again
Well, they didn’t actually promise to get rid of IR35 but to ‘look at’ it again. They did look at it and decided to keep it. The main reason was that there was a danger that contractors would get out of Umbrella Companies en masse and start up Limited Companies again.
As there are 200,000 Umbrella Company contractors at the moment and they pay, on average, £10,000 a year more in Tax and NI contributions this would be a loss to the Treasury of £2bn a year. They didn’t fancy that. Surely nobody really believed that they would hand back a load of money to people earning several hundred a day.
Government Prefer Umbrella Companies
The Government appear to want as many contractors as they can to get into Umbrella Companies. Although these contractors are able to claim more expenses than a permanent person could claim, while working through an Umbrella Company, HMRC appear to be happy to allow this to happen. They much prefer dealing with a few hundred Umbrella Companies than a million small Limited Companies.
The Umbrella Companies cream off the contractor’s PAYE tax and NI contributions and sends them on to HMRC each week.
Yes, that’s right, these contractors pay PAYE. They are, as far as HMRC are concerned, permanent employees.
Disguised Contractors v Disguised Employees
So, in getting rid of Disguised Employees they have now created what are, effectively, hundreds of thousands of Disguised Contractors.
The disguised contractors are really contractors but they are dressed up as employees of the Umbrella Companies.
The Umbrella Companies are, in effect, a ruse. They are a device so that contractors, whom IR35 catches, can pretend to be employees of the Umbrella Companies (who don’t produce or make anything) in order to claim some expenses against tax.
You couldn’t make this up!
Waste of Time and Money
Isn’t this all just a waste of time and money?
Couldn’t they just have come up with some solution to stop companies changing employees into contractors in the same job over a weekend? Surely it shouldn’t have been so hard to stop that.
Instead they created the monster IR35 which has created an industry in keeping hundreds of thousands of contractors outside IR35 and hundreds of thousands of contractors ‘dressed up’ as employees.
What a terrible waste of everyone’s time and money!
For a list of legal Offshore Umbrella Companies you should click on Offshore Umbrella Company List