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IR35 Forum to keep contractors in the dark about future meetings

Contractors are likely to find out even less of what goes on behind the closed doors of IR35 Forum meetings following the publication of the latest set of IR35 Forum meeting minutes from 5 November 2014’s meeting, over four months since it was held.

The minutes also show that the membership and terms of reference of the forum are being updated and that: “It was agreed that in future the minutes would be shorter, recording key points raised and actions.”

“The Forum’s behaviour has become farcical,” believes ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin. “HMRC has not only proposed that less information is published in the minutes, but the taxman can’t even manage to publish meeting minutes before the next meeting is held. Funny how tax demands don’t take that long to arrive.

“On this basis, how on earth are interested parties supposed to engage with Forum members? The answer is: they aren’t. IR35 has failed. The Forum is failing, and the whole exercise is becoming a complete waste of everyone’s time.”

Chaplin is mystified as to why it takes HMRC over four months to write 1,225 words. And even if they had been received in a timely fashion, the minutes of November‘s meeting are lacking in any real information.

“Tired topics such as the IR35 helpline and Contract Review Service and improving the awareness of IR35 were trotted out and we know HMRC has no real answers because there were none in the IR35 Forum Administration Review when it was published in January.

“HMRC has a duty to educate taxpayers about their responsibilities, but no contractor is going to trust the taxman to give them an opinion on whether they should be paying more tax.

“And surely the Forum can do better than suggest webinars as a ‘useful’ way of informing people? Couldn’t the data protection issues be overcome to use Companies House’s directors’ database to simply eShot them all?”

One heads-up for the contracting community can be found under any other business (AOB), which says ominously: “Update on tribunal cases: HMRC confirmed that they have opinions outstanding and cases are proceeding to tribunal.”

Chaplin concludes: “Based on current form, contractors are unlikely to find out what happened in the most recent meeting, which was held on 11 February 2015, until 20 June 2015. By then we could have a new government and everything could be different!”

Published: 16 March 2015

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