IR35 campaigners hit the road

A series of roadshows will help IT contractors learn how to cope with the Inland Revenue

A series of roadshows will help IT contractors learn how to cope with the Inland Revenue Self-employed IT contractors are being encouraged to attend a series of seminars to learn how to comply with the controversial IR35 tax rules. IR35 came into force in April 2000 and is designed to tax those contractors who are effectively working as employees -- who are accused by the government of tax-dodging. Critics of IR35 claim that by treating the turnover of an individual contractor or a small company as salary for tax and National Insurance (NI) contributions, it unfairly hampers them from competing with big businesses. A High Court judge last month criticised the Inland Revenue for not enforcing IR35 correctly, but did not declare the tax illegal, as the Professional Contractors' Group had argued in court. Now Shout99, a Web site for self-employed workers and small businesses, is trying to bring contractors, accountants and clients together so they can understand how IR35 affects them. It has organised 14 seminars around the UK, with speakers including ex-Inland Revenue inspectors and specialists in employment law. Andy White, editor of Shout99, believes that last month's High Court ruling makes it easier for contractors to fight their corner against the Revenue. "The most significant outcome of the Professional Contractors' Group's judicial review was the binding guidance issued by the High Court judge. Although the case failed to deliver the desired knockout blow to IR35, the judge's comments mean that contractors now have a target to aim at," White said. "In the past, it has not been a case of the Inland Revenue moving the goalposts -- as the goalposts never existed. Mr Justice Burton has given contractors the net to aim for." The Inland Revenue, which defended IR35 in the High Court, has no immediate plans to change the IR35 guidelines. "It is the interpretation of the rules that has caused problems," said Inland Revenue spokesman Dave Gostlow last week. The first Shout 99 seminars were held at 2pm and 7pm on Wednesday 2 May in Southampton, with another two held in Aberdeen last Tuesday. A further ten are scheduled to run until 16 May. Forthcoming Shout 99 seminars (taking place at 2pm and 7pm): Wednesday 9 May, 2001: Edinburgh. Sheraton Grand Hotel Thursday 10th May, 2001: Huddersfield. Hilton Hotel Monday 14 May, 2001: Reading, Wokefield Executive Centre Tuesday 15 May, 2001: Birmingham, Posthouse Birmingham City Wednesday 16 May, 2001: Stanstead, Hilton London Stansted Airport
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