Two years ago I went off the beaten track and wrote a blog on what is a vexed topic for many freelancers – IR35 – sometimes known as the ‘off-payroll working rules’.
These HMRC rules were introduced in 2000. They’re designed to ensure that contractors are not disguising what in reality amounts to an ’employment’ relationship with their client, to benefit from the tax advantages of operating through a limited company.
Some of my colleagues found the blog useful, thankfully. But as much as anything it was an internal thinkpiece. A way of proving to myself (or even HMRC if they ever came knocking) that I know about the criteria and can argue credibly that I am legitimately outside IR35.
This blog updates that thinking in the light of things that have happened internally in my business, and in the IR35 world itself, since I wrote the original piece.
[As before, please note: this blog does not represent advice. This is a contentious topic. If in any doubt, consult your accountant or a professional HR adviser.]
One thing is certain about the British weather: its uncertainty.
That uncertainty will only increase over time as the polar ice melts, sea levels rise, the jetstream gets further disrupted, and one-in-a-thousand-year events start to occur annually.
Pity then the intrepid British forecasters whose every word is hung onto nightly by farmers, fishermen, event organisers, sportspeople, families and dog walkers – and insurers.
Coming up with the right scenario from hundreds of computer-modelled scenarios is hard enough in itself. Finding the right language to describe the selected outcome – to deliver with airy reassurance, grim precision or obvious glee – is even harder.
So it’s hardly surprising that forecasters are inclined to be not very definitive in their predictions. The risk to reputation is one thing. More than thirty years on people still chuckle at poor Michael Fish and his quote, inevitably taken out of context, from the afternoon of 15th October 1987.
The economic risk to the farmers and fishermen is another thing. The weather matters meaningfully to many. Livelihoods and even lives are at stake: best to not get it wrong.
Still, couldn’t the forecasters be a bit less – well – vague?
Oscar Wilde famously quipped that to lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
Can Wilde’s witty maxim can be applied to freelance businesses, and the inevitable fact that our hard-won clients don’t stick around forever?
We spend so much time, capital and emotional energy finding and maintaining those precious relationships. How bad really is it when the hard-won clients – the golden icons of our professional life – move on?
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