You're in their sights (no, not HMRC's)...
As a professional contractor you are in a situation which may would envy – you have a highly marketable set of skills which enables you to be your own boss, dictate the terms under which you work (at least to some extent!), and often to demand a premium rate for your services. This however makes you a tempting target for service providers of varying degrees of scrupulousness.
Many professional contractors labour under the spectre of the dreaded IR35 legislation, inculcated by some providers of accountancy services to justify their fees.
We don't believe that professional contractors should be worried by IR35. We think that a sensible approach to structuring your business coupled with maintaining a close eye on the legislation to ensure that you remain compliant, will ensure that you can put your head on the pillow at night without undue concern.
If not selling on fear, some accountancy providers to your sector use greed as a 'call to action'.
A long-term contractor client contacted us recently. He had followed up an invitation by a 'specialist contractor accountant' to complete an on-line tax estimator which showed him that he was paying approximately £20k p.a. too much tax under his current arrangement with us. Happily, he gave us the right of reply which enabled us to work through the tax estimate he had been given, correct the errors, elisions and omissions, and demonstrate that far from saving him £20,000 the structure proposed would actually have cost him £15,000 p.a. more than his current tax.
We would not stoop to accusing anyone of deliberately falsifying the claims on their websites in order to win clients, and so the assumption must be that this difference arose from the 'specialist contractor accountants'' lack of tax knowledge!
Of course, the moral of this tale is that anything which looks too good to be true probably is: so do make sure you are dealing with a reputable service provider. An accountant with Chartered status is a good starting point.
We have many years of experience in dealing with professional contractors' tax affairs, including investigations, and would be pleased to talk to you if you are looking for a pragmatic, commonsense approach. Our service is not one-size-fits-all tax return conveyor belt: it is bespoke to your own situation. We help our professional contractor clients with:-
- Advice on service contracts and IR35 compliance
- Tax planning using spouse exemptions
- Company formation
- Tax and VAT registrations, choice of most economical VAT scheme
- IR35 insurance
Running your business
- Online bookkeeping and payroll software, if you like to look after your own books
- Bookkeeping and payroll services, if you prefer to outsource them
- Advice on VAT on provision of services within the EU and outside the EU
- Profit extraction planning, to maximise tax efficiency within and across tax years
- Annual tax and accounts compliance
Closing your business down
- Income Tax and CGT planning to minimise total tax bill on closing down a business
- Assessing tax outcomes of formal and informal winding-up
- Obtaining Revenue clearance and carrying out informal winding-ups
- Arranging and facilitating formal liquidations where warranted by CGT benefits
Please contact us if you need further advice.