Inside IR35: Expert Insights for Contractors and Employers

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • What IR35 is
  • The difference between inside and outside IR35
  • What IR35 means for businesses within the UK
  • What IR35 means for contractors within the UK
  • How to find and recruit the best talent

What is IR35?

Also referred to as ‘intermediaries legislation’, IR35 is a tax law in the United Kingdom that aims to clarify the employment status and tax obligations of individuals who provide services through intermediaries, such as limited companies or partnerships.

The introduction of IR35 in 2000, was designed to address tax avoidance by individuals who would typically be considered employees, if it not be for their intermediary. 

The main aim of IR35 is to determine whether a worker is legitimately self-employed or if they should be classed as an employee for tax purposes. 

Individuals who fall within the scope of IR35 are considered as a ‘disguised employee’ and are required to pay similar taxes as a regular employee. This includes having to account for income tax and national insurance contributions on their earnings. 

Determining whether a person’s employment status falls under IR35 is down to the worker’s intermediary, such as their limited company or personal service company. However, the hirer of an individual may also be responsible depending on the nature of the working relationship. 

What’s the difference between inside and outside IR35?

Inside IR35 and outside IR35 are terms used to describe the employment status of individuals and their tax obligations under the IR35 legislation in the UK. Here's a breakdown of the key differences:

Inside IR35

  • A contractor's working arrangement is assessed as similar to that of an employee.
  • The tax and employment status is treated as if the contractor is an employee.
  • Income tax and national insurance contributions are deducted at source by the client or hirer.
  • There are fewer tax advantages and reduced tax flexibility for the contractor.
  • Contractor is subject to PAYE (Pay As You Earn) taxation.
  • There are typically higher tax liabilities for the contractor.
  • Employment benefits, such as sick pay and holiday entitlement, may be applicable.
  • There is an increased administrative burden for the client or hirer in terms of tax calculations and reporting.

Outside IR35

  • A contractor’s working arrangement is assessed as genuinely self-employed.
  • A contractor retains greater tax flexibility and control over their earnings.
  • A contractor can structure their income tax-efficiently, often through a limited company.
  • No PAYE taxation is required for the contractor.
  • A contractor is responsible for their own income tax and national insurance contributions. 
  • Generally, there are lower tax liabilities for the contractor.
  • A contractor is not entitled to employment benefits as they are not considered an employee.
  • There is reduced administrative burden for the client or hirer in terms of tax deductions.

Determining whether a contractor is inside or outside IR35 involves evaluating various factors, including the nature of the working relationship, control and autonomy over work, the right of substitution, financial risk, and other relevant aspects.

It's important for contractors and businesses to accurately assess and determine the IR35 status of their engagements to ensure compliance with tax regulations and avoid potential penalties or legal repercussions.

What does IR35 mean for businesses within the UK?

IR35 has some implications for businesses operating in the UK, particularly those that engage with contractors, freelancers, or individuals providing services through intermediaries. 

  • Increased responsibility
  • Compliance and legal risk

Increased responsibility

IR35 means businesses are responsible for determining the employment status of the contractors they engage with, and whether they fall inside or outside IR35. To do so, businesses should conduct assessments and make accurate judgements to ensure tax regulations are complied with. If a business fails to do so, they may be liable for unpaid taxes and national insurance contributions. 

Compliance and legal risk

Failure to comply with IR35 regulations can lead to a business facing penalties and potential legal consequences. It’s important for businesses to conduct thorough assessments and maintain accurate records in case of a HMRC inquiry. 

However, there are also many positives for businesses who utilise IR35.

  • Simplified hiring process
  • Greater control over workers
  • Access to a wider talent pool
  • Consistent relationships
  • Simplified payroll and taxation
  • Improved workforce management

Simplified hiring process

By engaging workers inside IR35, businesses are able to streamline their recruitment processes. Doing so mitigates the need to negotiate contracts on a case-by-case basis or manage the tax arrangements of each contractor, as these responsibilities often fall to the intermediary or agency. 

Greater control over workers

Utilising IR35 allows businesses to exercise more control over an individual's activities and work arrangements. As a result of this, businesses are able to ensure that their contractors align with their policies and can foster a more cohesive and integrated workforce. 

Access to a wider talent pool

Businesses that adhere to IR35 regulations are able to tap into a wider pool of skilled individuals, including those who choose to work within the parameters of IR35. This means employers are able to access talent that might not be available if the company only relied on self-employed contractors. 

Consistent relationships

Engaging workers inside IR35 means businesses are able to establish long-term relationships with contractors. As a result, collaboration within the company might be improved over an extended period. 

Simplified payroll and taxation

A businesses payroll processes can be simplified by engaging workers inside IR35. This is because employees or deemed employees taxes and national insurance contributions are often deducted at source, reducing the administrative burden for businesses. 

Improved workforce management

IR35 compliance can help businesses better manage their workforce, ensuring that the right individuals are engaged for the right roles. By having a clearer understanding of the employment status of contractors, businesses can align skills and resources more effectively, enhancing overall productivity and efficiency.

What does IR35 mean for contractors within the UK?

As well as impacting businesses, IR35 can have some implications for contractors. 

  • Self compliance 
  • Potential legal consequences
  • Reduced contract rates

Self compliance

Contractors must ensure they are complying with IR35 regulations by maintaining accurate records and demonstrating their adherence to tax obligations. 

Potential legal consequences

Failure to comply with IR35 regulations can lead to a contractor facing penalties or legal repercussions. Adhering to legislation at all times is crucial to contractors to ensure they don’t land themselves in hot water. 

Reduced contract rates

Contractors working inside IR35 might face reduced contract rates as clients or hirers might adjust rates to take tax liabilities into consideration. 

Contractors are advised to keep themselves informed of IR35 regulations. They might want to seek professional advice to help them navigate tax obligations and ensure they are complying with regulations at all times. 

However, there are also a number of benefits for contractors who choose to work inside IR35.

  • Greater job security
  • Statutory employment benefits
  • Access to additional company perks
  • Clear employment status
  • Networking opportunities

Greater job security

Working inside IR35 generally means being engaged as an employee or through an intermediary, such as an agency or umbrella company. As a result of this, contractors might feel a greater sense of stability and job security, as there is less need to be solely dependent on short-term or temporary contracts. 

Statutory employment benefits

Employees working within IR35 are entitled to certain employment benefits such as sick pay, holiday pay and pension contributions. This could allow contractors to feel a greater sense of financial security. 

Access to additional company perks

Being considered an employee under IR35 can grant a contract worker additional perks and benefits that are typically provided by an organisation. Such perks include healthcare plans, employee discounts and training opportunities. 

Clear employment status

Operating inside IR35 removes any uncertainty that might surround a person’s employment status as well as provide clarity on their tax obligations. Complex tax arrangements are easier to navigate and the potential risk of tax investigations is reduced. 

Networking opportunities

Working inside IR35 can give an individual the opportunity to build relationships and networks with colleagues and as a result might lead to new career opportunities through collaboration and personal growth. 

Searching for your next contract?

 Check out our latest job opportunities or get in touch with one of our experienced consultants to learn more about the fantastic opportunities available to you. Alternatively, why not upload your CV to be notified when relevant job opportunities become available.

Who is Spencer Clarke Group? 

Since 2017, we've been changing the face of recruitment. From our employees, to the way we do business, to the culture within our office, we're determined to make a difference and create a positive impact on everyone around us.

Recruitment to us isn't just about matching candidates and clients; we’re passionate about finding candidates the perfect job which has the ability to boost their salary and standard of living, better their work life balance and improve their mental health. 

Similarly, we understand the impact which an experienced and skilled employee can make to a business and we love seeing clients thrive through the hard work of candidates which we have placed with them. 

We operate in two sectors:

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If you’re searching for a new role, why not visit our job page to take a look at the latest opportunities? Alternatively, upload your CV and one of our experienced consultants will contact you when a relevant opportunity becomes available. 

If you’re struggling to fill a role, why don’t you give us a call on 01772 954200 to see how we can help? One of our consultants will be happy to listen to the challenges which you are facing and advise on the best possible solution for you. 

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