The UK’s off-payroll working rules, usually referred to as IR35, are a challenge for contractors, consultants and freelancers. If HMRC suspects that you are actually employed rather than contracting – that you are ‘inside IR35’ – then you might face investigation, prosecution and potentially pay more tax.

Within six months of IR35’s introduction, back in the year 2000, we handled a challenge from the Revenue on behalf of a client. We won, of course, with relative ease. With each passing year, however, HMRC becomes more rigorous and demanding – and the rules tighter. Nonetheless, with more than 20 investigations under our belts, we have yet to be defeated when representing our clients in an IR35 case.

Most of the IR35 cases in which we have been involved have centred on oilfield consultants. Nick Bradford knows the oil industry inside and out and has, in fact, hosted tax planning seminars on all of the Shell installations in the North Sea. This kind of expertise gives us the edge in constructing arguments to take back to HMRC.

If HMRC insists on interviewing the operator, we’ll be there to In the event that HM Revenue & Customs insist on speaking to the operator (the contracting company or organisation) we’ll be there to represent our clients’ interests. That might mean interpreting leading questions so that everyone is clear on the terms of the conversation, or it might be about challenging inappropriate language. For example, an HMRC representative might refer to the contract position as a job – something which must be challenged.

To make sure your IR35 position is watertight we will provide a comprehensive compliance matrix to ensure your company is meeting all the requirements. We’ll also review your contracts and highlight where changes can be made to strengthen your case with regard to IR35. Finally, as a backstop, we can provide IR35 insurance to cover the cost of any investigations that might arise.

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