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IR35 Campaign: Fighting the Off-Payroll Reforms

Join our IR35 campaign

To support the campaign against IR35 please:

  1. Request your lobbying pack (see below)
  2. Meet your MP for 30 minutes
  3. Subscribe to our mailing list
  4. Follow or connect with our CEO Dave Chaplin on LinkedIn
  5. Spread the word to other contractors using our flyer

Meetings with MPs are essential. We have prepared a 32 page fact pack and six further documents to assist you with your meeting. Just email your MP name to us on and we will send you the information. Then you simply prepare, and meet your MP for 30 minutes.

This damaging legislation, that could mean you lose up to 30% of your income, is not yet law. Government has yet to publish its consultation (Feb 2019) and draft legislation (Summer 2019).

We are aware that many MPs in the currently low-majority Government do not wish the reforms to proceed. So, it's by no means a done deal.

We believe once more facts are known and shared with MPs and businesses we can potentially prevent any extension at all, or make the reforms fairer. But this requires your financial support.

Jump to:

ContractorCalculator is campaigning to prevent what would be the most devastating change to IR35 since its inception, and we need your help.

Having imposed the 'off-payroll working rules' upon the public sector, HMRC is intent on enforcing a private sector rollout, and plans to do for for April 2020. This is despite the impact of the reforms in the public sector, which demonstrated its crippling impact on public sector projects and industry as a whole.

Please help us prevent changes to IR35 which would:

  • Force thousands of contractors into false-employment
  • Expose self employed contractors to excessive taxation
  • Drive up project costs significantly
  • Deprive UK industry of essential access to key skills
  • Further incite tax non-compliance and tax evasion.

Use this resource to discover:

  • The full extent of the threat posed to UK contracting and industry
  • What you can do to help prevent further chaos
  • How you can receive a fair IR35 assessment.

Off-payroll reforms: the impact on contractors

In April 2017, Government introduced legislative changes to IR35 in the public sector, known simply as the 'off-payroll rules'. Following the changes, public sector hirers are now responsible for determining the employment status of the contractors they engage, and both they and agencies are liable for any unpaid taxes due to an incorrect assessment.

To avoid the tax liability risk that accompanies an 'outside IR35' assessment, many organisations have deemed all their genuinely self employed contractors to be caught by IR35. When this happens, the contractor is forced to pay employment taxes without the equivalent employment rights.

Non-compliance amongst agencies, which HMRC has failed to clamp down on, has meant many contractors are also footing the bill for employer's NI through their limited company.

If you are a permanent employee who can't understand what all the fuss is about, consider this: being caught outside IR35 means that, although your salary remains the same, you are forced to pay your company's 13.8% tax bill out of your own salary, and in addition, all of your employment rights are lost.

REAL IR35 FACTS: Please read and distribute our 6-page PDF IR35 factsheet about the reforms designed to counter HMRC's misleading rhetoric in their consultation document.

Off-payroll reforms: the impact on industry and compliance

The reforms have caused widespread damage to the public sector through poor implementation and misinformation spread by HMRC. The damage was exacerbated by HMRC's poorly developed and now flawed Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool , which was developed to try and help firms assess IR35 status.

To avoid unfair tax treatment, thousands of contractors abandoned the public sector. This left hirers depleted of essential skills and resulted in a huge amount of delayed and cancelled projects.

The changes have also encouraged non-compliance, with many unprepared agencies and hirers issuing blanket 'inside IR35' assessments and refusing to hire contractors via their limited companies. This has created two outcomes:

Despite the widespread media coverage of the damage, the Government signalled it's intention to roll out the reforms into the private sector in April 2020.

What is the real reason for the IR35 reforms?

HMRC doesn't care about how IR35 affects contractors or freelancers. This is partly because the taxman, along with the Chancellor, falsely believes that all contractors using limited companies are tax avoiders.

Over the years, HMRC has used rhetoric to frame IR35 in a manner which validates its unfair reforms. In so doing, it hoped to drum up support amongst the public and MPs. This has ranged from the absurd notion of 'protecting vulnerable workers' to its insistence that 'two people doing the same job should pay the same amount of tax'. The latter of these even sounds plausible, but it is an aspiration, not the law.

While HMRC and Goverment presents flawed arguments, the market responds by conducting surveys that provide empirical evidence to disprove these arguments. HMRC and Government ignore these findings as they oppose the propaganda that HMRC hopes will increase its tax yield. As the taxman's responses in the media have demonstrated , HMRC isn't prepared to let facts prevent it from acting upon its flawed set of principles.

While HMRC presents the off-payroll rules as a means of restoring parity, it is in fact an effort to get the self-employed to compensate the Treasury for diminishing employer's NI contributions. Here's why:

  • A self-employed contractor is a one-person business
  • Employers pay 13.8% employer's NI of on top of an employee's salary
  • When firms hire contractors, they don't pay employer's NI
  • HMRC is concerned about tax loss arising from self-employment
  • The tax system needs updating, but Government has no courage fix it
  • Instead, HMRC wants to increase taxes on the self-employed via IR35

But, as we have seen, this ideologically driven approach results in widespread 'false employment' and fuels aggressive tax avoidance. And despite years of Government rhetoric about clamping down on tax avoidance, as the public is very aware, they fail to do so.

Fighting the off-payroll rules: ContractorCalculator's campaign goals

The off-payroll rules, in their current form, threaten incontrovertible damage to the UK labour market, some of which has already been realised. ContractorCalculator's primary aim is to prevent these changes reaching the private sector, but there are numerous possible outcomes that would hugely benefit all concerned. Our campaign goals are to:

  1. Push back on a private sector roll out [SUCCESS - THE APRIL 2019 PLAN WAS CANCELLED]
  2. Get changes made to the underlying reforms in the public sector
  3. Ensure that any 'inside IR35' assessment means the employer pays their own NI bill*
  4. Ensure that any 'inside IR35' assessment results in the worker obtaining full employment rights
  5. If none-of-the-above can be realised: neutralise the impact of the changes by preparing the entire market for the roll out [IN PROGRESS]

* The new rules state that the hirer is responsible for paying the employer's NI. Whilst this is what the legislation says, the reality is that all contractors are being forced, legally or otherwise, to pick up this extra cost out of their pay, and no extra tax is actually paid by the client. Instead, the entire tax bill, including the employer's NI, is in many cases unlawfully being paid out of the gross rate paid to the contractor. This enables corporations to dodge their tax liabilities, and is not what it was designed to achieve.

How you can help the lobbying campaign:

To stand a chance of overcoming HMRC's draconian regime, we need the full support of the contract sector, which is where you come into play. As the response to recent campaigning efforts by ourselves and other industry stakeholders have shown, the taxman doesn't care about contractors. There is no point trying to convince HMRC with facts, because facts don't penetrate its dogmatic shell.

Please be aware, that trade bodies and campaigners like us at ContractorCalculator cannot bring about change on our own. Relying on us fighting without your help will not work. The only way to make governments listen is for consituients to contact their MPs. If you do not get involved then the campaign will not have an affect.

We need you to raise awareness with your local MP. They may be well versed on HMRC's IR35 rhetoric, but they hold the key to securing change for the better. Here is how you can help ensure that they do so:

  • DO NOT: Write letters to your MP - they don't read them
  • DO: Arrange to meet and speak with them, if possible
  • DO: Arm them with the facts and figures provided by this campaign
  • DO: Demonstrate to them that what HMRC plans is unfair on contractors, hirers and agencies and will have widespread negative repercussions for UK Plc.

To reiterate: We cannot do this on our own, and neither can any trade group. We can arm you with what you need, but you must be proactive to bring about change . That's how lobbying can be effective.

Meet your MP


The campaign is now at the stage where it is essential to meet your MP. Government will be publishing another consultation in Feb 2019. Then they will follow with draft legislation in the summer of April 2019. And then the next Autumn Statement will be November 2019, for measures that will go live in April 2020.

The Budget for the Autum Statement gets finished around August 2019. It is essential that the off-payroll tax is not included. Once it goes in, it won't get taken out. This is why the period up until the summer of 2019 is crucial.

To get a meeting, simply just call your MPs office and book a surgery slot to see them.

If you do write a letter to get a meeting, then put some effort into personalising your letter. Explain the impact on you and your other constituents. Otherwise they may wriggle out of a meeting.

Make sure they do not fob you off saying they will write to Treasury on your behalf. That is pointless. This is just the MPs clerk doing this and the MP will never read and digest the concerns. You must have a meeting.

Before you attend, email us and we will provide you with all the material for the meeting you need, including a 32-page Fact Pack that you can leave with them.

We will also include the 6-page PDF IR35 factsheet about the reforms to counter HMRC's misleading rhetoric.


HMRC's consultation document and IR35 factsheet

On 17th May 2018, HMRC published their consultation document, which included a factsheet containing multiple questionable claims and mistruths, providing an inaccurate representation of the impact of the changes. They followed up with an equally questionable fact sheet released under the cover of the Auttumn Statement on 29th Oct 2019.

ContractorCalculator has published a real IR35 factsheet, which sets the record straight on the damaging effects that the off-payroll rules have had on the public sector.

Our factsheet debunks the falsehoods that HMRC is purporting, and counter-balances the taxman's blinkered and biased view.

Facts and data

Updated IR35 factsheet launched to debunk more Government falsehoods
ContractorCalculator updated its IR35 factsheet which intends to set the record straight on the damaging effects that the off-payroll rules have had on the public sector.

ContractorCalculator Survey: How damaging were the IR35 reforms?
This survey of c1600 contractors and permanent staff working in the public sector was used to find out what happenedafter the reforms were introduced.

APSCo IR35 Reforms survey highlights damage caused by HMRC
Public sector organisations are shouldering the costs of recent changes to legislation around 'Off-Payroll' working, according to APSCo.

NHS survey: patient care services in crisis as IR35 reforms take their toll
Patient care standards in NHS departments are deteriorating rapidly as a direct result of the public sector IR35 reforms.

If you have any data relating to the Off-Payroll Reforms then please tell us via

Ensuring compliance with IR35

If changes to IR35 can't be achieved, we need to work hard to mitigate the threat of false employment by ensuring that contractors are granted fair IR35 assessments. Ensuring that hirers and agencies abide by their compliance requirements can be easier than you think. For them there is lots at stake - all of which come down to the impact on their profits.

Why you should avoid CEST

HMRC is still encouraging use of its flawed IR35 tool, CEST, to establish IR35 status. Despite widespread and unanimous criticism together with published evidence demonstrating that it is flawed and not fit-for-purpose, HMRC maintains the denial that it provides accurate answers - despite not having any proof to back its claims. Using CEST does not amount to an accurate or fair IR35 assessment. Here are the reasons why:

  • HMRC has been unable to provide any evidence that CEST works, despite ongoing pressure from industry stakeholders
  • The taxman has acknowledged that CEST doesn't assess mutuality of obligation (MOO) � a key part of case law which is essential for establishing status
  • There is no legislation that says CEST must be used for assessments
  • The tool has no legal authority and courts will ignore it
  • There is no paperwork to prove CEST gives the correct answers
  • Status experts have widely criticised the tool and dismissed it as inaccurate
  • In seven of the 22 historic IR35 court cases, CEST gives the wrong answer
  • Judges are now disagreeing with the results.

To counter the criticism, HMRC only needs to prove that CEST reaches the correct decision when tested against the 22 IR35 court cases. This is a simple ask, yet HMRC refused to be held to account, despite repeated requests from stakeholders.

Regardless, whilst the CEST tool does not test for MOO, and wrongly assumes it exists for all contractors, the tool is unfit for use.

In it's current form, CEST it is nothing short of an ultra vires attempt by HMRC to override the countries tax laws and encourage already compliant tax payers to pay more tax than they should.

Key reporting on CEST:
HMRC suppresses widespread criticism of CEST, but is still going to fix it
CEST assessment rejected by judge
10 key failings of HMRC's IR35 testing tool CEST - 18 month investigation
Under the bonnet of the HMRC IR35 tool
HMRC CEST tool has no legal authority, says IR35 legal expert
HMRC deliberately omitted key IR35 case law from CEST tool
IR35 reforms: HMRC's tool could mean wholesale stitch up of contractors

Assessing your status with

There are several deterrents preventing hirers from taking the required measures to assess contractors under the off-payroll rules:

  • Tax liability risk in the event that HMRC contests a status decision
  • The perceived administrative burden of testing contractors for IR35 in bulk
  • The perceived legal cost of hiring lawyers to assess contractors.

Fortunately, IR35 Shield, a tool developed over 8 years by the team at ContractorCalculator, provides a solution which eliminates cost, mitigates risk and workload for hirers, and ensures that contractors receive a fair and accurate assessment.

And, unlike CEST, this online IR35 tool is underpinned by case law, and returns the correct decision when tested against each of the historic IR35 cases.

IR35 Shield is an AI-powered solution, which has undergone continuous development since 2009, in collaboration with employment status lawyers and developers. It isn't prone to human error, therefore, it promises a level of accuracy that not even an employment lawyer can guarantee.

Users can obtain a result from IR35 Shield online within a matter of minutes , negating any perceived heavy workload on the hirer's part. The assessment results can be underwritten by insurers which eliminates any tax liability risk. Competitive fees needed to secure documentation that provide proof of status can be offset to the contractor. Most importantly for contractors, IR35 Shield actively advises on ways to avoid IR35, meaning fewer contractors will have to suffer unjust tax treatment at the hands of HMRC.

Acquiring legal help

With IR35 Shield, legal assistance from approved providers is readily at hand, whether it's to validate a pass or to address contractual issues preventing a pass.

These services are available for a fraction of the cost of enlisting an employment status lawyer to carry out a single contract review. Moreover, they mitigate tax risk effectively while ensuring contractors can continue to operate outside of IR35 legitimately.

Recent IR35 News

A Decade of Uncertainty: Tribunal Errors Prolong Adrian Chiles' IR35 Nightmare

After ten years and three tribunal hearings, the nightmare continues for the IR35 case involving broadcaster and writer Adrian Chiles.

Last month | Mon, 10 Jun 2024

BREAKING: Tribunal sends IR35 case back to square one after 10 years

The tax case between HMRC and RALC Consulting is remitted to the First-tier Tribunal to be re-examined

Last April | Mon, 15 Apr 2024

McCann Media Limited IR35 Appeal dismissed by Upper Tribunal

McCann Media Limited has lost its appeal against a First-tier Tribunal (FTT) decision which found IR35 applied to the engagements with Sky Sports.

Last April | Sat, 06 Apr 2024

HMRC team throws in towel on costly Atholl House IR35 case involving Kaye Adams

After 10 years and four hearings, HMRC finally gives up trying to prove Kaye Adams is a deemed employee under the IR35 legislation.

Last January | Wed, 24 Jan 2024

External sources

HMRC: Off-payroll working rules (IR35) for public authorities
HMRC: IR35 Forum
IR35 Shield - status assessment tools for contractors