IR35 history & overview

Doing IR35 research? We list every major event in the history of the IR35 tax legislation since it was introduced in 1999 and subsequently came into force in April 2000.

“IR35” is a piece of tax legislation announced in 1999, which took effect from April 2000. (See What is IR35?)

The legislation means that HMRC can tax some contractors as though they are employees of their clients. For those caught it means paying significantly more tax.

This is a list of list provides an IR35 overview and lists the key events in the history of IR35.

View each years key events: 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999

1999 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
IR35 measures announced. Mar 1999 Initial HMRC IR35 press release announcing the measures to counter tax avoidance in the area of personal service provision with the intention of them taking effect from April 2000.
PCG formed. May 1999 PCG formed to combat the IR35 proposals.
Modified IR35 measures announced. Sep 1999 Second press release detailing a modified approach based on consultations:
- onus on the service companies to follow rules; service companies to collect the tax rather than the clients. Existing tests for self employment to be used. Flat rat of 5% allowed for non Schedule E expenses.

Passed in Commons.

Nov 1999

After peers backed down, the Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill (which contained IR35) passed in the house of Lords.

2000 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Revenue publishes IR35 guidance. Feb 2000 HMRC publishes FAQs for IR35.
IR35 becomes law. Apr 2000 Finance Act published – schedule 12 being specific to IR35.

2001 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Judicial Review Mar - Apr 2001 PCG took HMRC to a Judicial Review.

High Court dismissed the PCG and IR35 remained law.
First IR35 case loses. Aug 2001 Battersby versus Campbell.

First case to go before Special Commissioners is lost.
Second IR35 case loses. Dec 2001 F S Consulting Limited vs McCaul.

Second case to go before Special Commissioners is lost.
Judicial Review - Appeal Dec 2001 Judges dismiss appeal by PCG.

2002 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
PCG focuses on case law Jan 2002 PCG drops legal fight with HMRC to focus on case law.
First IR35 case won. Oct 2002 Lime IT vs Justin

First case to be won at the Special Commissioners.

2003 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
IR35 case lost at High Court Mar 2003 Synaptek vs Young.

2004 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
IR35 case lost Jan 2004 Usetech vs Young.

2005 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Tories Propose Abolishment. Jan 2005 Tories Propose Abolishment of IR35.
Freelancer Loses Case. Jan 2005 Freelancer Loses IR35 Case..

Netherlane Limited loses at the Special Commissioners.
PCG wins freelancer case as special commissioners. May 2005 PCG wins case for Mike Ansell

2006 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Court of Appeal status ruling on employment status. Mar 2006 Cable and Wireless v Muscat

Concerns that contractors could start to claim employment rights.

PCG Analysis of Cable and Wireless v Muscat Judgement

Fears over Muscat bite

2007 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Island Consultants Ltd lose IR35 case to Revenue. Jul 2007 Island Consultants lose IR35 Case

Island Consultants Ltd V Revenue & Customs

No IR35 Precedent Set, Experts Say

Conservative John Redwood says Tories will "Turn back the clock on IR35 and MSC's" Aug 2007 Redwood: "We will Turn Back the Clock Entirely on IR35 and MSC"

2008 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Datagate Services Ltd wins case. Jan 2008 Lawspeed IR35 Win Shows Contractors Can Prove Status

MKM Computing Ltd loses case at special commissioners. Jan 2008 See this article - last paragraph

MKM Computing Ltd - Special Commissioners Decision

Dragonfly Consulting Ltd loses £99,000 in IR35 case.



Dragonfly subsequently loses appeal.
Jan 2008





Sep 2008
Contractor Loses £99,000 in IR35 Case for Being 'Part and Parcel'

Dragonfly Consulting Ltd - Special Commissioners Decision

Crucial Dragonfly Consulting IR35 appeal has been lost

Dragonfly verdict - “no massive additional exposure to IR35 risk”

First Word Software Ltd wins IR35 Case at Special Commissioners Jan 2008 Accountax Win IR35 Case For Contractor - First Word Software Ltd

First Word Software Ltd - Special Commissioners Decision

Contractor beats HMRC in IR35 case - Larkstar Data

HMRC wins narrow victory over Larkstar Data IR35 case in the High Court
Feb 2008



Feb 2009
Contractor beats HMRC in IR35 case - Larkstar Data


HMRC wins narrow victory over Larkstar Data IR35 case in the High Court

Contractor loses IR35 appeal - Alternative Book Company Ltd Jun 2008 Contractor loses IR35 appeal - substitution clause viewed as “window dressing”

2009 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Official figures showing that IR35 only brings in about £1.5 million each year May 2009 PCG’s revelation of IR35’s £1.5m per year tax take is (sadly) not the full story

Tilson ruling: Contractors inside IR35 and employment rights

Tilson ruling is overturned on appeal

Tilson loses appeal.
July 2009



Feb 2010


Nov 2010
Contractors inside IR35 may be able to claim employment rights after landmark ruling


Contractor ‘employment’ status clarified as Tilson ruling is overturned on appeal

Contractor’s bid for employment rights denied as Tilson loses Tilson v Alstom appeal

Stringer v HMRC: Clients should now be more supportive on contractors IR35 status Aug 2009 Contractors holiday pay ruling should make clients more supportive on IR35 status

IR35 special report: 10 years that shook the world of UK contractors Nov 2009 Contractor Calculator publishes 10 year anniversary special about the IR35 legislation containing key insights from 10 industry experts.

2010 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
PCG lobbying gains contractors Tory commitment to “review” IR35 Mar 2010 PCG lobbying gains contractors Tory commitment to “review” IR35

Larkstar leaves grim legacy for contractor IR35 status, despite HMRC closing case Apr 2010 Larkstar leaves grim legacy for contractor IR35 status, despite HMRC closing case

Contractors cheering “staggering” Novosoft IR35 ruling are likely to be disappointed May 2010 Contractors cheering “staggering” Novosoft IR35 ruling are likely to be disappointed

IR35 review promised by new Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) Jul 2010 OTS review of IR35

Free online employment status test launched by Contractor Calculator to enable contractors to evaluate their IR35 status Aug 2010 IR35 Test for contractors

Amendments to IR35 unlikely until April 2012 says expert Sep 2010 Amendments to IR35 unlikely until April 2012 says expert

Employment rights denied - Tilson loses appeal Nov 2010 Employment rights denied as Tilson loses Tilson v Alstom appeal

Contractor Calculator publishes IR35 solutions series: Review of current legislation and future options Dec 2010 IR35 Solutions series [5 parts]

2011 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Disguised employment (IR35) crackdown launched in USA Jan 2011 Disguised employment (IR35) crackdown launched in USA

Tribunal win for MBF Design Services confirms importance of MOO

MBF Design Services v HMRC – key facts from the case
Jan 2011 IR35 Tribunal win for MBF Design Services confirms importance of MOO


MBF Design Services v HMRC – key facts from the case

Contractor Calculator publishes IR35 Solutions Whitepaper Jan 2011 IR35 Solutions: Review of the current legislation and future options

IR35 Review by OTS: suspend or enforce IR35 better Mar 2011 OTS says suspend IR35 or enforce it better, then merge income tax and NI

Budget: IR35 to be "better administered" - not abolished Mar 2011 Budget document reveals IR35 is to be "better administered"

ECR Consulting wins IR35 case after five-year battle May 2011 ECR Consulting wins IR35 case after five-year battle with HMRC

Marlen Ltd. wins IR35 case against HMRC

Contractor pursued by HMRC despite failing all key employment tests
July 2011 Marlen Ltd. wins IR35 case against HMR


Marlen IR35 case: contractor pursued by HMRC despite failing all key employment tests
IR35 victory for Primary Path Ltd against HMRC

HMRC was predestined to lose case offering important lessons
July 2011 IR35 victory for Primary Path Ltd against HMRC


HMRC was predestined to lose case offering important lessons
Partial victory for JLJ Services v HMRC

Contractor avoids £141,000 tax bill with partial victory in IR35 tribunal ruling

Key facts overlooked in JLJ Services ruling
Dec 2011 IR35 ruling: Partial victory for JLJ Services v HMRC

Contractor avoids £141,000 tax bill with partial victory in IR35 tribunal ruling



Key facts overlooked in JLJ Services IR35 ruling: contractor ‘sets record straight’

2012 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Public sector targeted:

Public sector contractors deserve recognition, not witch-hunt

Public sector contractors need proof of IR35 status to avoid inspection

Media & entertainment contractors face new employment status tests

IR35 legislation changed to remove exemption of contractors working as office holders

94% of public sector contractor off-payroll contracts are ‘legitimate’


Feb 2012


Oct 2012


Nov 2012


Dec 2012



Mar 2014


Public sector contractors deserve recognition, not a witch-hunt


Public sector contractors need IR35 proof to avoid inspection


Media & entertainment contractors face employment status tests


IR35 legislation - office holders no included



94% of public sector contractor off-payroll contracts are ‘legitimate’
HMRC IR35 Processes and Framework:

IR35 risk profiles future of compliance campaign

Business Entity Tests (BETs) for contractors

No certainty from HMRC’s new IR35 framework

Contractors face at least two years of the current business entity tests (BETS)



Mar 2012


April 2012


May 2012


Aug 2012



IR35 risk profiles future of HMRC IR35 compliance


IR35 Business Entity Test for contractors – process and questions


No certainty from HMRC’s new IR35 framework


Contractors face two years of the current tests
Contractors may have more client clarity and less IR35 risk after Autoclenz ruling July 2012 Contractors may have more clarity after Autoclenz

2013 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
House of Lords PSC inquiry:
Limited companies and IR35 to be investigated by Lords Nov 2013 IR35 to be investigated by Lords Select Committee
IR35 and limited companies dominate hearing Nov 2013 IR35 and limited companies dominate hearing
IR35 needs 3000 inspectors to be policed properly Dec 2013 IR35 needs 3000 inspectors to be policed properly
Lords slam IR35 - benefits are unproven April 2014 Lords slam IR35 - benefits unproven and HMRC should review

2014 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
Contractors being forced out of Ministry of Justice by new IR35-unfriendly contracts Mar 2014 Contractors forced out of Ministry of Justice by IR35-unfriendly contracts
New IR35 data confirms HMRC is wasting taxpayers’ cash June 2014 New IR35 data confirms HMRC is wasting taxpayers’ cash
IR35 Forum minutes: business entity tests aren’t working and should be abolished Sep 2014 IR35 Forum minutes: business entity tests aren’t working and should be abolished
IR35 taxes uncollectable if contractors’ company has no money Oct 2014 IR35 taxes uncollectable if contractors’ company has no money
HMRC abolishes the IR35 Business Entity Tests (BETs) Oct 2014 HMRC abolishes Business Entity Tests
IR35 whitepaper published - 15 years of IR35 Nov 2014 Contractor Calculator Whitepaper: IR35 after 15 years

2015 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
IR35 Forum Administration Review highlights no progress made Jan 2015 IR35 Forum Administration Review highlights no progress on administering IR35
IR35 2013-14 tax yield collapses Feb 2015 IR35 2013-14 tax yield collapses
IR35 could become irrelevant if OTS Employment Status Review solutions are adopted March 2015 IR35 could become irrelevant
HMRC IR35 case capacity revealed as only 250 March 2015 HMRC IR35 case capacity revealed as only 250
IR35 is highly complex and expensive - says OTS Jul 2015 IR35 is highly complex and expensive - says OTS
IR35 should be abolished but engagers pay NICs, says expert David Kirk Aug 2015 IR35 should be abolished but engagers pay NICs, says expert David Kirk
IR35 will not change until April 2017, confirms HMRC Dec 2015 IR35 will not change until April 2017, confirms HMRC

2016 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
IR35 public sector consultation released May 2016 IR35 public sector consultation released
HMRC’s planned IR35 tool is impossible, claims expert Jul 2016 HMRC’s planned IR35 tool is impossible, claims expert
100+ BBC presenters could face huge tax bills following mass IR35 clampdown Oct 2016 100+ BBC presenters could face huge tax bills following mass IR35 clampdown
Autumn Statement 2016: Major IR35 reforms to go ahead Nov 2016 Autumn Statement 2016: Major IR35 reforms to go ahead

2017 - IR35 History

Event Date Detail
New IR35 book launched - Beat IR35 Jan 2017 New IR35 book launched - Beat IR35
IR35Testing.co.uk launched - free IR35 test tool Date IR35 assessments are now free - only pay for remedy
HMRC ESS tool has no legal authority, says IR35 legal expert March 2017 HMRC ESS tool has no legal authority, says IR35 legal expert
Experts slam logic underlying the HMRC IR35 tool Jun 2017 Experts slam logic underlying the HMRC IR35 tool

Updated: Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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