IR35 reforms coming to the private sector

The government is planning to consult on extending the public sector off-payroll working rules to the private sector.

In April 2017, there were major changes to the way in which IR35 applies where a contractor provides their services to a public sector body client through an intermediary:

  • Status determination – the responsibility for determining IR35 status shifted from the contractor to the client. The client is likely to take a risk-adverse approach and set the IR35 status even before advertising a contract.
  • Tax deduction – if the client decides that IR35 applies, the contractor is taxed as if they were an employee, and will be subject to PAYE and NICs.

 Even though a public sector contractor can be taxed as an employee, their employment status does not change and they do not receive the rights and benefits that go with employment. Not surprisingly, the change has been extremely unpopular, and many contractors have decided to stop working in the public sector or to increase their fees to cover the additional tax costs.

A recent survey reported that 80% of IT projects in the public sector are suffering delays because of the IR35 changes.

In the November 2017 Budget, the government announced that it would carry out a consultation on how to tackle IR35 non-compliance in the private sector. A possible next step is the extension of public sector reforms to the private sector.


This newsletter is for general information only and is not intended to be advice to any specific person. You are recommended to seek competent professional advice before taking or refraining from taking any action on the basis of the contents of this publication. The newsletter represents our understanding of law and HM Revenue & Customs practice as at 15 January 2018.


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