Are contractors being kept in the dark about IR35?

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An independent IR35 review body has come under fire for failing to keep contractors informed of possible changes to the controversial legislation.

Critics have rounded on the IR35 Forum, claiming its decision to only release what it deems to be ‘key points and actions’ from its meetings is effectively keeping freelancers and self-employed professionals in the dark about what is going on.

The group was established following the government’s 2011 Budget promise to make improvements to the way IR35 is administered. It is designed to provide an impartial analysis of the legislation – effectively bridging the gap between contractors and HMRC.

ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin claimed the most recent minutes gave little information about how the meeting was conducted, thereby reducing the transparency of proceedings

Despite this criticism, the group was praised for releasing the minutes just six weeks after the last meeting took place. This is compared to the four months it took to publish details of November 2014’s gathering.

Meanwhile, it was also claimed that the taxman is only able to handle 250 IR35 enquiries at any one time. The Revenue only dedicates four specialist teams to enforce the controversial legislation – each comprising around 40 members of staff. This is despite the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) claiming that HMRC would need 3,000 inspectors to effectively uphold the rules.

The news comes as a further blow to HMRC’s credibility, after it was revealed its compliance yield has plummeted in recent years. Just £430,000 was brought in during 2013-14 – a drop of £670,000 when compared to the previous year.

Have your say

Are you a contractor? Do you feel that the IR35 Forum is keeping you in the dark? Would you like to see more information in future meeting reports? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.