IR35 and off-Payroll Working2023-05-31T15:40:50+00:00

IR35 & HMRC Legal Support

IR35 and off-payroll working- understanding IR35

Firstly, the IR35 was introduced by HMRC on 6th April 2000 to combat tax avoidance by workers supplying their services via a limited company (‘Personal Service Company/PSC’) who, but for the PSC, would be considered an employee (and pay increased levels of Income Tax and NIC’s as a result). Now, IR35 is 20 years old and continues to grow and grow in terms of its notoriety.

HMRC & IR35 rules explained

A number of important changes have been outlined in recent budgets, aimed at further removing the advantages of such relationships. In summary, the government have put the following provisions in place:

  • National Insurance: Firstly, from 2016-2017, the £2,000 National Insurance Contribution ‘Employment Allowance’ no longer applied to companies whose sole employee is also the shareholder/director of the company.

  • Tax Credits: Secondly, with effect from April 2016, tax credits on dividends ceased to be paid and dividends were made taxable at the rates of 7.5%, 32.5%, and 38.1% for basic rate, higher rate, and additional rate taxpayers respectively. The first £5,000 of dividends was made exempt from taxation.

  • Income Tax: Furthermore, the PSC would be liable to deduct income tax and NICs from travel expenses claimed for travel to and from any assignment where the individual is subject to direction, supervision, or control by the client.

  • Length of Employment– Next, have you worked for the same end client on a long-term basis? Have you worked for other clients?

  • Public Sector: Finally, the more recent introduction of the public sector IR35 rules also signalled a newfound intent by the government to close down what they allege to be widespread tax avoidance by those operating PSCs, rules which, rather predictably, will now be extended to the private sector with effect from the 6th of April 2020, ensuring that the burden of responsibility for determining IR35 status and the risk of non-compliance moves away from the contractor/PSC to the end client.

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Attwells Solicitors for IR35 rules, tax and HMRC legal support in Suffolk, Essex & London

Who will do my work?

Our employment team comprises of a trainee solicitor with over 3 years of experience in insurance litigation and counterfraud. In addition to a Partner who has over 10 years of experience working in employment law.

Lloyd Clarke
Lloyd ClarkePartner
Lloyd is a Partner of the firm and heads up Attwells’ Employment Law Department. He also regularly undertakes work in the areas of civil litigation, company, and commercial law.

Daily, he advises employers, employees, independent contractors, businesses and individuals in contentious and non-contentious matters, regularly appearing in the Employment Tribunal.

How can Attwells assist you with your IR35 requirements?

  • Consultation meeting and letter of advice – we can meet with you, take your instructions and review your current working conditions and then provide you with a letter of advice setting out what steps you should take going forward to best protect your business from IR35.

  • Reviewing existing contracts and assessing status – Unlike our competitors, we don’t just tell you the result of our review (i.e. whether you are inside/outside IR35), but also give the reasons for this determination, risk areas and what steps can be taken to strengthen (and possibly change) your position.

  • Drafting new contracts – We will draft fresh contractors for your PSC, recruitment business or contractors including all the relevant safeguards needed to protect your business. We will also provide advice on what mechanisms you can put in place, within the current day-to-day working practices, to further reduce the risk of IR35 applying.

  • Policies – Implementing and or reviewing policies and procedures for IR35 and how to make determinations

  • Determinations – Dealing with challenges to IR35 determinations

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What factors determine IR35 status?

IR35 is determined by reference to the contract in place and working practices. You cannot avoid IR35. HMRC look at a number of factors when deciding if a contractor falls within IR35.

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  • Control – does the end client tell you how, when and where your services must be performed?

  • Personal service – do you have to personally provide the services or can you send a substitute in your place?

  • Financial Risk – if your work is unsatisfactory, are you obliged to correct it in your own time for no additional reward? Is there an opportunity to make a profit/loss?

  • Length of Employment– Have you worked for the same end client on a long-term basis? Have you worked for other clients?

Disguised Employees

Effectively, such workers were ‘disguised employees’ and benefited from a net saving in tax of up to 25% when compared to a directly employed individual, including the ability to claim a number of tax-deductible expenses not ordinarily available to an employee. As a result, the engaging organisation also benefits from significant savings as they do not have to pay employer NICs, nor do they have to offer any employment rights or benefits.

What if HMRC decides IR35 rules apply?

Therefore, if a contractor is deemed to be inside IR35 (and therefore labelled by HMRC as a ‘disguised employee’), the contractor will have to pay income tax and NICs as if they were an employee paid via PAYE and the PSC will face a financial penalty. Consequently, the potential liabilities for a PSC are huge. As a result, it is very important that they have a clear understanding of IR35 to ensure that they do not fall foul of it. However, this is by no means an easy task – ever since its introduction IR35 has been criticised as being highly complex and confusing.


Typically, an arrangement is likely to be caught by IR35 if, amongst other things, an individual provides their service to the end client (or is obliged to do so); those services are provided under arrangements involving a PSC; and the circumstances of the arrangement are such that if they had been made directly between the end client and the individual, the individual would have been held to be an employee.

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Employee Legal Support

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