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Do we need to raise NI contributions for the self-employed?

Hold on to your hats, contractors – a major think tank recently recommended that the days of the self-employed paying less National Insurance should end.

A recent report from CentreForum says that freelancers and contract workers just aren’t paying their fair share when it comes to NI contributions. In fact, the author of the report, Adam Corlett – a bloke sure to receive more than a few bits of hate mail in the post from contractors after this – insists that the self-employed enjoy a ‘tax break’ that amounts to some £1.6 billion a year, simply because freelancers pay nine per cent or so on National Insurance, while traditional employees pay around 12 per cent.

Mr Corlett trotted out the whole ‘tax avoidance’ chestnut, remarking that there’s much too much opportunity for the self-employed (or those a bit too skint to pay their National Insurance) to get away with murder. It sounds like a damned witch hunt to me, only with contractors having the dubious honour of the ones being hunted down; yes, CentreForum insists that if their report was followed to the letter by the Government only those self-employed earning massive amounts of cash would actually be affected, but we’ve all heard that before haven’t we?

Is it just me or isn’t there already a framework in place to ensure that the self-employed don’t get away with paying less money than they should? Why in the world do we even have IR35 if we’re just going to make contractors and freelancers pay what everyone else has to pay, despite the fact that a self-employed worker’s life is just that much more complicated than everyone else’s as it is?

Furthermore why aren’t we spending more time on getting multinationals to stop avoiding the tax they owe? CentreForum can talk about freelancers ‘paying their fair share’ all they want, but that £1.6 billion annual shortfall is peanuts compared to what firms such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Google funnel overseas every quarter I’ll wager; let’s go after them and leave these contractors alone.

It’s typical – no one cares about a three percentage point difference when times are good, but as soon as the government starts seeing their coffers run dry because of a worldwide economic recession that was started by banking institutions that were supposedly ‘too big to fail,’ they go looking for ordinary Brits to foot the bill. And then people wonder why there are massive riots in places like Greece, Turkey, and Brazil – people are tired of being put through the wringer because the government is incompetent!

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