Tag Archive | "freelancer"

How to Build Your Contractor Brand

Working as a contractor is tough, as you likely already know. If you work on just a single contract at a time, you have the issue of not knowing when it may end, or risk sudden termination if the company gets into trouble or needs to make cutbacks, leaving you out in the cold. If you work for multiple clients simultaneously, you have a constant search for new business, to keep driving jobs and making sure there is money in the bank at the end of each week.

What can you do to help make your life easier? Here’s our top tips:

  • Subscribe to job alerts. CV-Library was recently named the best job site for UK contractors to find work. (Others are also available). Set up email alerts direct to your inbox with links to potential new opportunities to ensure you don’t miss out.
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date.Ask previous clients for recommendations and endorsements, as third parties telling the world how great you are having endless benefits. Build your presence by commenting on stories of companies you follow, where you believe opportunities for you may exist either now or in the future.
  • Consider creating your own website, if you don’t have one. Your own URL and email address adds a sense of professionalism, and acts as a shop window to the work that you do and the services that you offer. If you don’t have time to create one yourself, sites such as Upwork, Peopleperhour and Fiverr can be a great place to find someone to help you create one for a reasonable cost. 
  • Consider outsourcing your accounts. Of course, there are packages to enable you to manage accounting online, but these can’t help advise you on potential tax savings you can make as a contractor, or the benefits and perks you may be missing when you file your tax return. Fill out our simple form to find the best accounting companies who can help you out.
  • Think about using an umbrella company. Operating under a limited company framework, rather than self-employed has benefits for some contractors, but aithough the hassle of having to prepare and file quarterly statements to HMRC. 
  • Too much admin?Again, outsource it. A virtual PA can help you get through that pile of papers on your desk and can work on a single project, or a few hours a week to help you keep on top of things.
  • Take advantage of local business networking services.Many Chambers of Commerce have free to attend breakfast meet ups, where you can meet potential future clients. 
  • If you work from home, consider shared office space.Communal working in a shared office space doesn’t have to be expensive. It can get you out of the rut of being alone all day and gives you an opportunity to meet potential future collaborators or clients. 
  • If you’re an office-based contractor, take time building relationships with people outside of your immediate team. You may find even though your project is coming to an end, that an opportunity exists elsewhere in the organisation, and, if a company knows you and likes you, you’ve already got your foot in the door if you have a relationship with the team and project manager.
  • Never stop learning. Use your commute time to get on YouTube and learn new skills that can boost your current skill-set. Just 30 minutes a day can take your skills to the next level or broaden them so you’ll be ideally placed for the next contract that comes your way.  

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Accountancy Software Company in Data Breach

The well known accountancy software Sage, was recently involved in a data breach that is believed to have exposed the details of UK businesses.

Around 300 businesses were involved in the breach, with some of those potentially being contractors and freelancers who were no doubt not too pleased their personal and bank account details would have been on show.

It’s a shame when these kind of things happen, especially when multi-million pound companies like Sage should be right at the forefront of customer security and privacy. However, these things do happen, even to the biggest companies, and I think it’s their response that tells you the most about the company.

With that in mind, it is good to see that Sage, who are a FTSE 100 Company, have made it a top priority to investigate the breach and then take the necessary steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

They should be applauded for this approach in my opinion. Instead of hiding away and trying to pass the buck, they are taking responsibility and showing their willingness to tackle these kind of issues right away.

“Our customers are always out first priority,” said Sage. “We are communicating directly with those who may be affected and giving guidance on measures they can take to protect their security.”

No doubt many contractors and freelancers who have accounts with this accounting software company will be watching this news story very closely over the next few weeks, and will be interested to see how it all ends.

They can take comfort knowing that The Information Commissioners Office is also involved with the investigation, so everybody can be assured all lines of inquiry will be followed through with until the matter is resolved and a satisfactory conclusion has been reached for all those who had their details on show.

Personally, I think this kind of thing will happen more in the future as we put all of our details online and have accounts for just about everything.

Sure, the security technology is getting better, which means online criminals have a harder time getting inside, but there will always be mishaps and breaches like the one we have just seen at Sage, and although they are doing everything in their power to put it right, it still doesn’t change the fact that a few hundred business owners in the UK had data on show that should not have been there.

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More Contractors Moving Towards “Gig Economy”

Thanks to digital sites and platforms, many contractors are choosing to do so called gigs rather than traditional freelance contract work.

Take someone like Ying Li Looi-Garman for example. She is a freelance video producer from Singapore, who finds multiple jobs every month on a gig site that makes up the majority of her schedule.

Millions of people around the world are doing the same, with many freelancers in the UK starting to get in on the act.

It doesn’t surprise me at all to be honest. Let’s face it, over the last 10 years a whole world of new opportunities has been opened up thanks to the internet, and it seems that in the last few years freelancers have been taking advantage of that.

It’s good for businesses of course. Instead of having to sign-up people with monthly, or even yearly contracts, they can simply visit a gig site, find someone who has the kind of skills they are looking for, and then pay once the job has been completed. It really couldn’t be simpler.

At the end of the day, it is all about flexibility don’t you think? Freelancers get the flexibility to set their own hours and choose the jobs that suit them without having to sign any kind of contracts, while at the same time business owners are experiencing the same kind of benefits.

If it works for both parties then I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of this “gig economy” in the future.

It seems not everybody is convinced about this new way of doing things. For example, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation released a new report recently that highlighted how more more should be done to put gig workers in the same bracket as other self employed traders, in order to protect their rights and ensure a fair and safe economy.

The report then went on to talk in length about how gig workers may end up becoming “exploited workers, who are self-employed in name only” which could end up taking a lot of power away from the freelance community.

Of course, there is pros and cons to any kind of new way of doing things. Nothing will ever be perfect. Ultimately though, my opinion is that if these gigs offer freelancers more freedom and choice, then it’s something that will continue to get more popular with each passing year.

It’s not ideal for every kind of freelancer or industry however, and the old way of doing things will remain strong among thousands of businesses and contractors in the UK, of that we can be sure.

If you are a freelancer then the best way forward is to enjoy both worlds if you can, and see which one suits you best.

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Industry bodies condemn new IR35 reform consultation

A new IR35 reform consultation published by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has been roundly condemned by trade industry bodies since it went public.

It’s been a bit more than a “chilly reception” when it comes to the HMRC’s new IR35 reform consultation. In fact, I’d characterise it closer to “withering hail of condemnation” than anything else, as organisations have come out of the woodwork to tell the taxman how absolutely horrid its plans are for reforming the way personal service companies working in the public sector handle disguised employment issues.

One such organisation, contractor accountant and insurance specialist Qdos, characterised the whole mess as inherently unfair. The organisation’s reasoning is that with contracting for state bodies being what it is, the questions asked to personal service company contractors to see if IR35 applies will always come up as yes – which would more or less catch every PSC contractor as under IR35, regardless of whether they actually should be or not.

The results of this new IR35 reform, should it actually go forward unchanged (and heaven knows how much HMRC loves to ignore any sort of constructive criticism) is likely going to result in freelancers and contractors will desert the public sector in groves, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed. IPSE says the UK as a whole will be the losers here; there may be large consultancies that will be drafted in to fill the sudden public sector void, but those will likely be the only winners in this scenario.

Meanwhile, the Freelancer and Contractor Services Asociation says that it’s bewildered that these new proposals are even being tabled by HMRC. The FCSA expressed disappointment that the tax authority seems to be focusing its efforts on how to implement this new legislation instead of whether it should be put into place at all. The new framework is so fundamentally wrong, as well as unethical and unfair, according to Julia Kermode, chief executive of FCSA, that it’s practically a moral imperative to challenge this mess. IPSE chief executive Chris Bryce tacitly agreed, saying that the new IR35 reforms are more or less proposals to tax contractors as full employees without providing any of the statutory rights that you get as an employee.

What a bloody mess. I can only hope that somehow this complete abortion of tax legislation ends up being tossed out with the rest of the rubbish before it’s too late!

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Government to examine non-compete clauses

Non-compete clauses, the bane of anyone leaving their old job and starting out on their own, are to be taken a closer look at by the Government.

Individuals that decide to leave permanent employment in order to strike out on their own as a sole trader, freelancer, or contractor often run into some sticky wickets. One of the worst is when you end up boxed in by a non-compete clause, which are written into more than one permanent work contract. They certainly have a chilling effect on those looking to go into self-employment, as they bar individuals from competing with their previous employer. However, it looks like the Government is going to take a look at how non-compete clauses are enforced in the UK – at least according to a statement given by business secretary Sajid Javid.

In many cases, non-compete clauses aren’t enforced, and it’s usually when an employee with a specific career focus leaves a larger company that handles large-scale clients. Unfortunately a lot of the time such cases need to be proven in a court of law – and a brand-new contractor with little to no capital to prove that the non-compete clause doesn’t apply to them can find themselves stymied.

This is why the business secretary has called for evidence. Mr Javid wants opinions on non-compete clauses before he can take any action, but odds are there will be some action taken if enough evidence is presented that these clauses are causing barriers to Brits looking to become entrepreneurs. With the UK aspiring to be as innovative as possible, there’s a big push to continue that by encouraging start-ups and break down any barriers that are preventing this innovation from happening. Well, that’s what Mr Javid has to say about it, anyway.

Honestly I don’t know which way this is going to go. Non-compete clauses are certainly a thorn in the side of anyone bound by one if they plan to go their own way, or at least I think so. On the other hand, the big business lobby in the UK might not be so amenable to these regulatory changes any time soon, especially if they feel it will cut into their profit margins. Then again what else is new?

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Do SMEs have better access to finance than before?

If there’s anything that contractors and accountants alike have had to deal with, it’s access to finance – yet a new report says things are getting better.

In fact, SMEs have always found it challenging to securing and then managing their funding – something that contractor accountants encounter all too often when a small business takes them on to help with financial planning. Sole traders and freelancers especially can end up being mired and unable to grow their businesses because of a lack of access to finance, but apparently it’s slowly but surely getting easier for SMEs to gain this access according to venture capital firm Albion Investors.

For the third year in a row, Albion has released a growth report in order to more easily analyse how SMEs are expanding year-to-year. For 2015, the firm says that there were some very positive results when it came to how many SMEs were able to find either grants or loans that provided them the capital to expand and grow their businesses.

Albion looked at more than 1,000 SMEs, discovering that 44 per cent of them were able to access finance this year. That might not sound like much to you and me – especially since that’s markedly less than half – but if you compare the figure to previous years it’s a massive difference: in 2013 there were just 26 per cent – barely over one in four – that could say the same thing, while 2014 saw that figure barely move upward to just 27 per cent. You don’t need to be good at maths to see that the playing field leveled quite rapidly in 2015, or at least it did if you can believe Albion’s figures.

Lovely news all around isn’t it? Well there are still some obstacles to clear for SMEs, especially going forward. Bureaucratic red tape is still the primary bane of small businesses, which is of course why it’s so important to have a contractor accountant on staff if you don’t have the ability to hire on a permanent one. By the same token the skills shortage is really hammering these SMEs hard, though the freelancer and contractor community has been supporting British employment in a major way over the last several years. As far as I’m concerned, things will continue to get better for SMEs if the money keeps flowing, as the judicial application of cash to pretty much every obstacle I can think of can end up moving mountains if you ask me.

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BIS launches consultation on late payment regulatory changes

In its infinite wisdom, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has finally decided to launch an open consultation on late payment regulation.

Filed under what can only be called the “we told you so” category, BIS has more or less tacitly admitted that late payments are a massive problem in field of self-employment. Freelancers, contract workers, sole traders, and a slew of other Brits are tired of slogging uphill in an attempt to get larger firms to actually pay their invoices in anything even remotely resembling a timely manner, and while cashflow issues can affect even the biggest of firms there’s an obvious bias towards large companies telling smaller ones to jog on. Finally the BIS has stood up and taken notice with the launch of this open consultation.

Acting in concert with the Scottish government, as Westminster was apparently too busy doing nothing to get involved, BIS is ready to get to work on how to change the regulatory landscape to discourage what it calls “grossly unfair” terms and conditions with an eye to changing the regulations that control them. This isn’t just a little problem, either – there’s something like nearly £27 billion owed to British SMEs. That’s a lot of dosh by anyone’s standards.

So far, the consultation is open for submissions and will remain so until around the end of November. It’s accessible on the BIS website, so please if you’ve got something to say about the issue get off your bum and fill out a response form. This isn’t going to work unless we can all band together as contractors and tell BIS how absolutely tired we are of being strung along by bigger, “more important” companies that make us sign 60 or 90 day payment agreements without offering the same flexibility in return.

I’m getting tired of hearing about freelancers and self-employed Brits being bullied and pushed around by these big firms that think we’re not important enough to warrant being treated fairly. I know you must be too, or you wouldn’t be reading this now would you? So let’s stop talking about how rubbish these big companies are and start doing something about it.  BIS can’t actually get anything done unless it gets every single one of us to inundate them with responses, so every email sent or every letter posted the better if you ask me.

Conversely, you can just keep whinging and going on about it whilst you wait oh-so patiently for that three-month-late cheque to show up in your post. Even money on whether you’ll get to celebrate a new royal coronation before you actually get paid.

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HMRC reminds contractors about tax returns

Contractors beware: the self assessment tax return deadline for the 2013/14 year is closing fast, and the taxman can’t wait to start charging fines for it.

If there’s one thing that Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs likes it’s wringing as much cash as it possibly can from taxpayers. It especially likes when self-employed Brits like freelancers and contractors drag their heels when it comes to sending in their self assessment returns, as it means that it gets to charge these tardy individuals an extra £100 for their sins.

The deadline this year is 31 October, and that means anyone missing the deadline is in for a nasty trick just in time for Halloween. You’ll be slapped with a £100 fixed penalty for missing the final date, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t even owe any tax – you’ll still have to pay the tax authority. Likewise even if you get your payment in for the right amount you’ll still be on the hook for that extra £100, so do yourself a favour and don’t dawdle – unless you enjoy paying through the nose, that is.

Think that a paltry £100 isn’t much to worry about and that you’ll just let it slide for a few months? Bad idea – you’ll see even larger penalties at the three month, six month, and 12 month thresholds. Better to just get it in so you don’t have to worry about it.

Of course HMRC would much prefer you to fill your tax return in online. There are many perks for doing so, chief amongst them being given shedloads of extra time. The deadline for online filing is 31 January 2015. Not only that but those choosing to file their SA online will see their return processed more swiftly and their tax calculated automatically. Still, not everyone is prepared to live and breathe in the 21st century which is why the tax authority still accepts paper SA returns. It’s doing you a favour by not phasing them out completely, so you should get your act together and comply with the deadlines already.

For what it’s worth, I know that nobody enjoys doing their taxes. Contractors and freelancers especially have had a hard time filing SA returns, and many have decided that the stress of figuring out an SA return themselves is too much to bear; instead these individuals reach out to a qualified contractor accountant to do the heavy lifting for them. It may cost them a few quid but the alternative – missing the deadline, or calculating your taxes incorrectly – is an even bigger pain, so using a good contractor accountant can easily pay for itself quite quickly.

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HMRC says it may turn down IR35 Forum suggestions

While Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs is working closely with the IR35 Forum to review the disguised employment rule, it says it has the final choice in policy.

Well there’s nothing quite like knowing all your hard work could be for naught: while the IR35 Forum has been working day and night to go over policies ahead of the upcoming review, the taxman recently said that while the Forum’s policy suggestions are welcome it’s ultimately up to HMRC whether they’re going to be implemented – and that these suggestions need to be to the tax authority’s liking in order to get its imprimatur.

IR35 has been a thorn in the side of freelancers and contractors for years now, especially since the rules are supposed to provide a framework for determining if an employee is dodging his or her tax responsibilities by claiming to be an independent contractor instead. Poor guidance has seen all too many legitimately self-employed Brits raked over the coals under IR35, and I for one am keen to see the rules change to make this less common – and the IR35 Forum is largely behind the idea of reducing freelancer liability as well. Despite this, if HRMC wants to continue targeting contractors it’s going to – and that has me more than a little worried.

The IR35 Forum has been forthright in telling the taxman that better guidance is needed on IR35. Of particular note is the way employment status is determined; the forum suggested that HMRC handle this on a topic by topic basis. This is only one of the 13 separate recommendations the IR35 Forum has already made to the tax authority, but HMRC says that it would rather push for making its Employment Status Indicator the primary tool in determining employment over a wide variety of situations – and that IR35 cases would be no exception to this rule. Still, the taxman did agree that the employment status guidance for IR35 needs to be updated and reviewed on a regular basis.ome.

The tax authority says it wants to provide the best value for money for British taxpayers when it comes to IR35. If you ask me, the best way to do this is to put in some provisions to ensure that legitimate freelancers and contract workers aren’t targeted so much by disguised employment investigations; even if a contractor defends such an inquiry successfully, the costs incurred in doing so can be crippling.

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Tax avoiders prosecuted in greater numbers by HMRC

The number of tax avoiders dragged into court for their sins have grown by a third in comparison to last year, according to newly released figures.

Tax avoidance and tax evasion is of course a serious problem in the UK right now, and Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has taken it to the limit when it comes to going after people and firms that have been dodging their financial responsibilities. The taxman has been dedicated to squeezing every last penny from anyone and everyone it can, and as a result there were 795 criminal prosecutions in the 2013-14 financial year.

This figure is up by 29 per cent in comparison to the 2012-13 financial year, where there were only 617 prosecutions. Next year HMRC is aiming for even higher figures in order to meet its self-imposed 1,165 prosecution target for the 2014-15 year.

This represents a rather large sea change on the part of the tax authority, who would be highly reticent to pursue criminal prosecutions in the past because the amount of money it would cost to bring such a case would largely erase the cash they would recover in the event of a successful prosecution. Meanwhile, now with a £35 billion tax shortfall to deal with, HMRC seems unsurprisingly keen to get every bit of money it can – even if that means watching most of its progress diminish in the face of high court costs and legal fees.

In all honesty I’m rather torn on this bit of news. On the one hand I’m always chuffed to hear about tax dodgers facing criminal charges, as anyone who cheats HMRC makes it harder on everyone else like you and me who does pay their tax burden responsibly. On the other hand, the taxman’s zeal to recover as much as it possibly can leads me to believe it’s casting a very wide net – and that means it could be targeting individuals who don’t really need the hassle of having to fight off a court case; freelancers, contractors and other self-employed Brits have been used as whipping boys by HMRC in the past, and I truly don’t want to see this go on into the future.

Far be it for me to claim that we need to exempt small business owners from paying their taxes; that’s obviously something that isn’t permissible by any stretch of the imagination. At the same time, many self-employed try their best to pay their taxes every year only to have HMRC move the goal posts on them, so who’s truly to blame?

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Business Entity Tests need to go, IR35 Forum urges

If there’s one thing the IR35 Forum hates, it’s Business Entity Tests – and the Forum would like to see them gone completely if possible.

BETs are likely being used improperly by the public sector, the IR35 Forum feels, and it’s tired of having to explain to the public sector that it’s using these BETs the wrong way to establish whether or not a contractor is employed. Truth be told IR35 is a thorn in the side of everyone, but these BETs have not been making it much easier for anyone if you ask me, so I’m glad to see the IR35 Forum is interested in seeing these things dismantled permanently.

BETs really aren’t all that new, as Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs just introduced back in 2012. The intention behind the tests – to make it easier for freelancers and contractors to determine if they fall under risk for an IR35 investigation – might have been to make things more streamlined when it comes to paying taxes, but the truth of the matter is that BETs have been source of controversy since shortly after they were implemented by the taxman.

HMRC was quick to say that BETs shouldn’t be used to determine employment status. That determination, it said, should be based solely on their actual methods of work, but there do seem to be organisations out there that are using BETs incorrectly in this manner – and it’s gotten the IR35 Forum so hopping mad that it’s called for the abolition of the practice completely!

Now I’m sure the majority of freelancers and contract workers out there in the UK are in agreement with the IR35 Forum, especially those who have spent time struggling with public sector contracts. It’s not necessarily a question of trying to shirk tax responsibilities, either; I know that I would welcome something else instead of the BET to determine IR35 susceptibility if it was more thorough and straightforward – and there were some safeguards in place to prevent employers from using it to determine employment status.

Will the taxman actually go ahead and change things for the better? Well maybe so, maybe no; as far as organisations go it’s largely immune to criticism or at least stubbornly resistant to it. Here’s hoping this changes sometime soon and we can put the BET to rest where it belongs!

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OECD launches major attack against corporate tax evasion

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development just rocked the foundations of the status quo by announcing new international rules for tax avoidance.

The OECD, which was tasked by the G20 countries last year to get on the problem of rampant tax avoidance, has delivered on its promise that it would look into the issue – and it’s delivered in a big way. In fact the possibility exists that the types of sneaky legal loopholes that allow major multinationals like Starbucks, Amazon and Google to get away with paying barely any corporation tax every year – if they end up paying anything at all, that is!

Of course the critics have already begun to crawl out of the woodwork. Multinationals are crying poverty, claiming that pressures such as slim profit margins and attempts to remain competitive have already done much to hamstring the ability of these companies to pay their taxes without the measures they use now to reduce their tax burden. To that of course I say bollocks – these multinationals love to whinge and go on about how they’re absolutely destitute whilst their chief executives pull down massive compensation packages year after year, so I don’t want to hear such an absolutely transparent excuse any more.

There were actually some valid criticisms of the new measures from the anti-poverty sector. One charity, ActionAid, said that developing countries could find it difficult to implement these measures on account of the cost, and I can see how that could pose a problem. Luckily these measures will have plenty of time to be hammered out properly, as the quickest they could be implemented would be a year from now.

Still I’d very much like to see some of these plans come to fruition. Anything to hit these large-scale multinationals where it hurts would be beneficial, especially as it would shift the focus from harassing freelancers, contractors and small business owners when it comes to getting every last penny as possible when it comes time to pay your taxes every year. With SMEs and the self-employed supporting so much of the economy as they already do, hitting them with a higher tax burden than a multinational company seems inherently unfair to me, and in a major way.

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Contractors urged to think about their retirement plans

If there’s one thing that contract workers tend to not spend much time thinking about it’s their retirement plans – but this may be changing sometime soon.

According to some new research from Prudential, only one out of every three contractors actually possess some sort of pension. This is a far cry from the 51 per cent of traditional employees who actually do have one, and this has some possibly dire results for anyone who works for themselves: in particular a freelancer or other interim worker could miss out on more than £90,000 over the course of their self-employment because there’s no company pension scheme making contributions in their name.

Now I don’t know about you but where I’m from 90,000 quid is quite a bit of cash. I’d love to know how the pendulum can be swung back in favour of contractors, and I’m not the only one: the Demos think tank recently made the suggestion that the self-employed need to be granted access to a portion of their pension contributions in order to ensure that cash will be there waiting for them when it comes to retirement.

Providing a more flexible solution for the self-employed could lead to some serious peace of mind for contractors, according to Demos research director Duncan O’Leary. It’s especially psychologically gratifying to know that someone can access at least a portion of their pension in the case of a financial emergency or something similar, and I’m inclined to agree.

Unfortunately there’s still just too many freelancers out there that don’t have much in the way of either rainy day savings or a nest egg built up for the future. It comes with the territory, sadly, as any retirement plans have to be managed by hand instead of simply relying upon your employer and its benefits package from handling things behind the scenes. Perhaps it’s not such a bad idea for freelancers to contract out their accounting to an outside firm or individual; in addition to having your tax details handled a contractor accountant can also ensure that a freelancer has a portion of his or her income set aside in a safe retirement plan that can provide some security for the future. If the Demos suggestion is adopted this could make pensions much more attractive for freelancers as well.

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Accountants warn against using personal service companies

If you’re a freelancer or a contractor that uses a personal service company you might be in for a world of hurt, many accountants warn.

Contractor accountants and other financial service experts with experience in helping the self-employed reconcile their tax burden with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs have begun to warn of using PSCs, especially since the taxman seems so damned keen to eradicate the use of such arrangements on the grounds that they’re too easily abused when it comes to tax avoidance. For what it’s worth the warning has quite a bit of urgency behind it considering how much trouble HMRC has been stirring when it comes to contract workers using PSCs, all because a few bad apples have ruined it for the rest of us.

Honestly the controversy surrounding the use of PSCs isn’t necessarily new, but it has been renewed over the past few years – and it’s absolutely grown to epidemic proportions. The taxman has convinced itself that any contractor that uses a PSC is a dirty tax dodger, and has been strengthening regulations to root out avoidance – especially through increasing disguised employment rules through IR35 and related activities. Honestly most sane people are sick of IR35 and its depredations – and a recent consultation by the House of Lords reiterated the sentiment that IR35 is a cumbersome and over-reaching method for determining tax avoidance – but even with all the evidence to the contrary there’s little indications that disguised employment rules are going to go away any time soon.

In order to combat the issue, accountants have begun to earnestly tell their contractor clients to think twice about using a PSC if they don’t want to run aground in the razor-sharp shoals of IR35 enforcement and investigation. This is something that may be easier said than done, considering some 1.5 million business entities currently use PSCs in the UK – and a massive number of those are undoubtedly freelancers and contract workers. Still, if you’re looking to keep your nose clean when it comes to tax avoidance accusations, I can’t think of a better way to do so than avoid anything that HMRC has in its sights – and with PSCs currently on the taxman’s radar it’s not such a terrible idea.

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