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As a responsible voice in the world of contracting, we often warn against “abusive” tax arrangements, and usually we’ll include words like “avoidance”, “evasion” and “serious consequences” to let you know that we mean business and are not at all amused. We do this out of genuine concern, because it really is difficult to overstate the damage that can be done if you get involved with the wrong company or follow the wrong advice.

If you’ve been working as a contractor in the UK over the last year, it will be no surprise that a petition to prevent the extension of IR35 reform into the Private sector received over 14,000 signatures, or that the government has responded.

On first reading, their response appears to be balanced and reasonable, but closer examination reveals it to be less so. If we take HMRC’s points one at a time.

Reasonable Excuses for Late Filing

As the 31ST of January rapidly approaches, thousands of tax payers are yet to file their Self Assessments with HMRC and risk facing late filing penalties.  File after the January deadline and HMRC will automatically raise a £100 late filing penalty, whether you owe any tax or not.             

Why should compliance be important to contractors? In these difficult times it’s easy to understand the desire to maximise your hard-earned income, but no-one has a magic accounting trick that will legitimately increase your take home pay.  

If it looks like someone has, it’s because they’re breaking the rules. Even so, when non-compliant companies promise you can take home over 90% of your contract rate, you might be forgiven for asking why you should care about compliance.

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