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HMRC may send out IR35 questionnaire

If you’re a contractor that was recently dragged over the coals by an IR35 investigation, the Government may send out questionnaires to you as well.

In a move my Jewish grandmother would have called ‘chutzpah,’ Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs is looking to gain a better understanding as to how new disguised employment rules are actually working when applied in a real world scenario, so they’re looking for permission to send out questionnaires to anyone who’s been subject to an IR35 investigation from April. This would be the first time that HMRC would be arsed to seek direct feedback from everyone who’s ended up having to pay the levy, but there’s one very important question on my mind: even if the tax authority is given the go-ahead to pursue the line of questioning, does anyone truly think these questions won’t be met with outright hostility and rage?

I mean, for what it’s worth HMRC’s current IR35 investigation methods have been coming under fire for several months, mostly because of how contractors – actual self-employed Brits, and not permanent employees hiding their status through falsely claiming that they are contractors – may be unfairly targeted. Not only that, but even if these contractors can prove that their accounting methods are sound and that they do indeed work for no one but themselves, the costs of defending against an IR35 investigation are sometimes so high as to be financially crippling; at that point you might as well just pay whatever fine the taxman thinks you owe and call it a day.

In other words, I predict that, if this questionnaire scheme goes forward, HMRC is going to get back some very cross letters in the post that feature expletives and other strong language quite prominently. Somehow I sincerely doubt that the tax authority is going to glean any useful information besides which orifice they may choose to forcibly insert their questionnaire.

I swear, sometimes it seems like no one actually thinks anything through before actually going ahead with whatever hare-brained scheme that’s on the agenda for this week. It reminds me of those old Road Runner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote would constantly attempt to catch his prey by using traps of Rube Goldbergian complexity, only to have them backfire (quite literally) in his face. I suppose I’ll be waiting for the puff of smoke and falling anvil when it comes to HMRC’s plans!

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