Contractors working for umbrella companies or limited companies may be interested to hear that the PCG has been asked by the Government to join the new IR35 Forum, which meets for the first time in May.

The Forum was set up after the Government’s decision to retain the controversial IR35 legislation, despite trenchant opposition, but improve its administration by HMRC. Exchequer Secretary David Gauke recently met with senior representatives from HMRC, HM Treasury and the PCG, which pressed the need for greater consistency, transparency and clarity over IR35. Mr Gauke agreed that this would indeed be a priority.

The Forum will be monitoring and evaluating the administration of IR35 by HMRC. At its inaugural meting next month, terms of reference will be formulated to ensure that the views of the freelance contactor community are heard in addition to those of the Revenue, Government and Treasury.

There is widespread agreement amongst organisations such as PCG, the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), accountancy firms, tax experts and small businesses that HMRC has much work to do in order to improve its performance in this area. The Forum is, however, intended to be a constructive body, assisting in the improved implementation of IR35. Nonetheless, even officials from HM Treasury now openly acknowledge that HMRC needs to improve its performance considerably.

PCG Managing Director John Brazier said that he had been assured that the Forum would not be a “talking shop” but a “positive force for change.” A “genuine climate for change” in the HMRC’s administration existed, he added, and promised that PCG would do everything in its power “to deliver that change and to ensure the best business environment for freelancers.”

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