Employment or self-employment?

There is no statutory definition of ‘employment’ or ‘self-employment’, so determining whether someone is employed or self-employed is not straightforward.

Instead, HMRC applies a series of ‘tests’ in order to ascertain whether someone is classified correctly. As large amounts of both tax and NICs can be at stake. HMRC often takes quite an aggressive line with regard to this issue, and errors can be costly.  So seeking advice that is tailored to your situation is essential. Please contact us for assistance in this matter.

Under the ‘IR35’ rules companies, and partnerships providing the personal services of the ‘owners’ of the business must consider each and every contract they enter into for the provision of personal services. The test is whether or not the contract is one which, had it been between the owner or partner and the customer, would have required the customer to treat the owner or partner as an employee and therefore be subject to PAYE.

The contract ‘passes’ if the owner/partner would have been classified as self-employed; it fails if the owner/partner would have been classified as an employee. If the contract ‘fails’ the business is required to account for PAYE and NICs on the ‘deemed’ employment income from the contract at the end of the tax year. This is done using specific rules. We can advise you about this, so please contact us for further information.

The position for individuals working through their own company in the public sector changed from April 2017. The public sector employer, agency, or third party that pays the worker’s intermediary now has to decide if the IR35 rules apply to a contract, and if so, account for and pay the relevant tax and NICs. The government plans to consult on how to tackle non-compliance with IR35 in the private sector.


Whose Risk?

If the question is whether an individual is an employee or self-employed. The risks lie with the ‘engager’ or payer – with a potential liability for the PAYE which should have been paid over without the right of recourse to the ‘employee’. If the question is whether or not IR35 applies. The question (and any liability due) is for the individual and his/her company (the payee) (unless the company is engaged in the public sector as explained above).

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