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Offshore firm accused of not making NI contributions

An umbrella company currently stands accused of not making National Insurance contributions in the millions of pounds thanks to its offshore status.

Offshore umbrella service firm ISS Ltd, a company based in the Channel Islands, has in excess of 24,000 contract workers on its payroll. The lion’s share of these freelancers work within the public service sector in positions such as supply teachers and in related fields.

ISS was recently investigated by the BBC – itself no stranger to tax avoidance accusations – finding that the firm, which denies any and all wrongdoing quite vehemently – could have a National Insurance bill in the multiple millions. With the average daily rate of a supply teacher being £160, this leaves the taxman’s share at around £90 on a weekly basis, and if HMRC is not receiving its cut, there very well could be hell to pay for ISS.

Worse yet, the investigative efforts of the BBC found that councils and schools could end up bearing the responsibility for the lost tax revenue under the IR35 ‘disguised employment’ rules. If these contractors are deemed to be acting effectively as employees of these local authorities in everything but in name only, the tax bill will go to the newly-branded employers.

Offshore firms have been a thorn in the side of the taxman for years, experts say, and have worked to create the largest tax scandal in the UK in quite some time. With the economic recovery currently so tenuous, a tax loss of this magnitude could hinder recovery efforts even further.

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