Hermes newest target in employment status debate

Courier company Hermes is the latest target in a long-running debate around employment status that has previously engulfed Uber and Deliveroo.

HMRC has reportedly stepped up its investigation into Hermes, which classifies it couriers as self-employed even though their working patterns don’t reflect this.

Separately, the GMB trade union has brought an employment rights lawsuit against the company vowing to fight against ‘bogus self-employment’ and the ‘gig economy’. 

Government rushes through stripped down tax bill before election

In a bid to rush their latest Finance Bill through the House of Commons before the snap general election this June, the government stripped out some key parts of its tax agenda, including the Making Tax Digital scheme.

The revised Finance Bill, which was passed through the Commons on Wednesday, was 80% shorter than the original document, but one thing that wasn’t cut from the revised bill was the controversial IR35 reforms for public sector contractors. 

Important changes in the new tax year

The new tax year is here and it has brought with it the usual soup of tax and regulatory changes. This year there are a number of important changes that will affect contractors, including new IR35 rules, changes to the flat rate VAT scheme and new income tax rates.

Some of the changes will be received positively – others, less so. Here we summarise the most important April changes for contractors. 

18 perks employees get that freelancers have to pay for
Editor | 24 March 2017
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Freelancers and self-employed people will be well accustomed to criticism from employed friends and colleagues.

Philip Hammond’s final Spring budget statement was met with fury from the self-employed community when the Chancellor broke a manifesto promise and increased taxes on the self-employed.

Have you tried the FreeAgent Mobile App?
Editor | 28 April 2017
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If you’ve tried it before and not got on with it or never installed it then now is a great time to pick it up for your smartphone and see the powerful list of features that you can control from a simple touchscreen.

With banking, tax notifications, time tracking and a slick new interface all added over the last two years since it’s launch the mobile app really does cram a lot of functionality into the App.

HMRC harpoons new ‘loyalty points’ umbrella scheme as a disguised renumeration tax avoidance scheme

HM Revenue and Customs has warned taxpayers that it is aware of a new ‘tax avoidance’ umbrella scheme in which contractors are paid, in part, with loyalty points that can be redeemed for ‘tax free’ income.

The tax authority has said that they consider the umbrella scheme to be against the rules of disguised remuneration and that users of the scheme will have their tax affairs investigated. 

Editor | 3 April 2017
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There will be a number of things changing this April, some of which will affect them negatively.

We assess the changes and suggest some tax-efficient ways for contractors to respond.

Self-employed welcome Chancellor’s ‘screeching’ U-turn

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been forced to make a ‘screeching’ U-turn on National Insurance contributions (NICs) for the self-employed.

In his budget statement last week, the Chancellor said that he wanted to increase Class 4 NICs, which are only paid by self-employed workers, by two pence in the pound in 2019. 

Following heavy criticism from Tory backbenchers, the media and the self-employed community, the Chancellor has dropped this policy.

The SNP leader in Westminster Angus Robertson called it a “screeching” U-turn while Labour said the move was “humiliating”. 

Tool: Check your IR35 status before April

HMRC has launched a new tool designed to help contractors, and those that engage them, decide a worker’s IR35 status.

But with less than a month to go before a fundamental change in the way IR35 rules are applied, some experts have found cause for concern with the Employment Status Indicator tool.

A contractor’s IR35 status is all about whether the contract they are working on should be considered employed or self-employed for tax purposes. The Employment Status Service is supposed to give HMRC’s view of whether a contract is inside or outside IR35.

This will be of particular interest to limited company contractors working in the public sector because, from April, it will be the public sector organisations that decide on IR35 status instead of the individual. 

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