The latest minutes from the IR35 Forum reveal why IR35 reform in the private sector will have to face delays.
The minutes mainly focus on the issues involving “off-payroll” reform and the need for more improvements. The outcome of the IR35 Forum appears to have convinced the Government that it should delay implementing IR35 changes in the private sector until 2020.
HMRC told the IR35 Forum in its Summary of Responses document that it “would say more about MOO [Mutuality of Obligation].” The Forum discussed the potential options, two of which are under consideration.
The first is including information on the Check Employment Status for Tax’s (CEST’s) landing page, and the second is redrafting HMRC’s paper on MOO to include additional information. HMRC and stakeholders have different interpretations of MOO’s definition.
MOO has long been an issue, with many wondering why it is absent from the CEST tool. HMRC’s opinion is that MOO will already be in place if an individual needs to use CEST. The Tax Tribunal that adjudicated on recent IR35 cases did not share this opinion.
HMRC accepted that changes have to occur but said that there needs to be a balance between making the CEST tool easy to use and understand and creating a tool that covers every eventuality.
If the latter were to happen, then it would require the simplification of the IR35 rules themselves. Before debuting the CEST tool, HMRC stressed that each case should receive judgment on its own merits. However, this is unlikely to take place with the mere use of an online tool.