According to a blog post by Kate Cottrell on Contractor UK, the two most recent IR35 Forum meetings confirm “the big picture” on IR35; essentially, that the taxman is pulling together the IR35 Review.
The majority of IR35 Forum members, who met twice this summer, have been focusing on the administration of the rule and measuring the results of the piloted IR35 reforms of two years ago.
The IR35 pilot included the Business Entity Tests (BETs). Cottrell claims she was against BETs from the start, on the grounds that they had “no foundation in case law and would inevitably be used as an IR35 status test”. However, it was “only right” that they should be tested, particularly because many external members fully supported them.
Currently, Cottrell continues, all support for BETs has gone, largely due to evidence of them being manipulated and used as a status test. Cottrell predicts that BETs will be abolished, and once they are there will be a need for some up-to-date advice for the public sector, where BETs have been used as part of the assurance process.
The removal of BETs, she adds, will have little impact on contractors. Cottrell’s experience as part of a team of IR35 advisers is that “virtually no contractor achieves a low score”. In fact, the majority of contractors have never even heard of them.
With the improved IR35 guidance and transparency over HMRC activity, contractors are in a “much better place”. Hopefully, the Forum will continue to give contractors the reassurance that any amendments to the administration of IR35 will be debated and monitored.
The IR35 Review, however, has not met the timescales set by HMRC and is unlikely to be ready to sign off at this month’s meeting of the Forum.