- The government has confirmed that it will extend the "off-payroll" working rules to the private sector from April 2020.
- Companies may need to rethink the basis on which they engage contractors and should start to prepare for the change in law.
- We can guide you through the new rules and the steps you should take.
The "off-payroll" working rules typically apply to individuals supplying their services through an intermediary (commonly a personal service company) and were introduced for public sector contractors in April 2017. Legislation to extend the rules to the private sector from April 2020 will be published this summer but, in the meantime, there is action that those engaging workers through personal service companies (PSCs) can take. Separately, the government has consulted on the rules that determine employment status and is considering what changes might be needed to take account of modern working patterns and environments. One of the proposed measures is to align the status tests for employment rights and tax purposes more closely.
A REMINDER OF THE "OFF-PAYROLL" WORKING RULES
At the moment, a private sector client contracting with a PSC does not have to account for income tax or National Insurance contributions (NICs) on the fees that it pays to the PSC. Instead, if the engagement is found to be within a set of tax rules known as "IR35", the PSC (not the client) is liable to account for tax and NICs. Broadly, IR35 applies if the individual worker would be regarded as an employee of the client had they been engaged directly rather than through the PSC. Concern about a lack of compliance in this area led the government to change the way IR35 operated for contractors in the public sector. Known as the "off-payroll" working rules, they make the public sector client responsible for deciding whether or not an engagement is within IR35. If it is, the client (or the person paying the PSC if different) is liable to account for income tax and NICs (including employer NICs) on the fees paid to the PSC. The government believes that the changes have worked well and, following a consultation last summer, announced in the 2018 Budget that it will be extending the off-payroll working rules to the private sector.