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Contracting business ECR Consulting wins IR35 case after five-year battle with HMRC

IR35 Test

IT contractor Elaine Richardson has won her IR35 case after battling with HMRC for over five years over its claim for more than £50,000. A tax tribunal has ruled that her contractor limited company, ECR Consulting, “is a genuine business and therefore not the target of the IR35 legislation”.

The tribunal’s focus on Richardson’s status of ‘being in business on her own account’ could signal a shift of thinking by tax tribunals towards recognising that the classic tests of employment and IR35 status – control, substitution and mutuality of obligation – are increasingly irrelevant in today’s knowledge economy, and can no longer reflect modern flexible working patterns.

Richardson’s company was originally facing an IR35 tax bill in excess of £50,000, relating to her company’s contract work for client Vertex Data Science. Fortunately, her tax investigation insurance, provided through her membership of PCG, funded representation by IR35 experts Accountax Consulting.

Accountax Consulting’s Matt Boddington, who represented ECR Consulting at the recent tribunal hearing, successfully argued that Richardson’s relationship with Vertex Data Science lacked the essential characteristics of employment and it was clear that she was in business on her own account, and not subject to IR35.

Boddington says: “What is particularly pleasing about this judgement is that the tribunal had their commercial heads on, and understood that contracting through a single person limited company is a prudent and sensible method of providing freelance services, and not just about disguising employment.”

Published: Friday, May 13, 2011

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