IR35 – New rules for medium and large businesses from 6 April 2021

IR35 also known as the ‘off-payroll working rules’ is legislation designed to combat tax avoidance by individuals who work in a similar way to full-time employees but bill for their services via their limited companies to make their business more tax efficient.

The legislation is designed to prevent workers from avoiding tax by operating as contractors, when actually, they are employees in all but name.

Reforms to off-payroll working rules in the private sector were due to take effect in April 2020 but were delayed as businesses grappled with the coronavirus crisis. The changes will now go ahead in April 2021.

What is different from 6 April 2021?

Currently, if your business hires a contractor who declares they are ‘outside’ IR35, then as a hirer you do not need to deduct tax or NI from the fees you pay them. Their fees are simply treated as aa business expense.

From 6 April 2021, the reformed IR35 rules shift the responsibility for determining the tax status of a contractor from the worker to the organisation. This is already the case in the public sector.

What do businesses need to consider when determining IR35 status?

How is the contractor paid?

To stay outside of IR35, self-employed contract workers are normally paid on a project-by-project basis, which is usually when work reaches a specific milestone or comes to an end.

Who has control?

The contractor must have control over how they complete their work for a contract to fall outside of IR35. If you set their working patterns or provide excessive input over how their work is completed, HMRC are likely to view this as employment rather than contract work.

Who provides the equipment?

If you provide the contractor with equipment rather than them using their own, this could result in HMRC viewing them as your employee. A contract should make it clear that the contractor is obliged to use their own equipment.

The contractor should remain separate from your business

If you allow the contractor to become an integral part of your business, for example managing other employees, this indicates employee status as opposed to self-employment.

Exclusivity

If you are using the same contractor over a long period of time, HMRC are likely to view this as an employee-employer relationship, meaning the contractor falls within IR35.

Government website – Checking Employment Status for Tax (CEST)

If you are not sure if a worker should be classed as employed or self-employed then we would recommend that you check the following gov.uk site – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-employment-status-for-tax

Exemption for small companies

In the private sector the new rules will only apply to medium and large businesses that are the end user of the worker’s services. Where the end user of the worker’s services is a small business, the responsibility for assessing the arrangements, and applying IR35, will remain with the contractor.

A small business as defined by the Companies Act 2006, is a business that has two or more of the following features:

  • a turnover of £10.2m or less;
  • a balance sheet total of £5.1m or less; and/or
  • 50 employees or less.

If IR35 applies – what does a business need to do?

If you determine that IR35 rules do apply, you will need to need to deduct income tax and employee NICs and pay employer NICs to HMRC.

Get in touch if you need our help.


This article is for general guidance only. It provides an outline, and may not include points which are important to your situation. You should not depend on this blog without taking advice based on the full facts of your case. The information given was correct at the time of publication.

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