Off-payroll working rules delayed
In a surprise move, the Government have announced that the reforms to the off-payroll working rules have been delayed by one year and will now come into effect from 6 April 2021. The delay is to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The delay will affect medium and large private sector organisations engaging workers through personal service companies and other intermediaries, and workers providing their services to such organisations in this way.
As the announcement of the delay came only three weeks before the reforms were due to take effect, it comes too late for many. To avoid having to deal with the new rules, many organisations have already taken the decision not to use workers providing their services via an intermediary, opting instead to place all workers ‘on payroll’.
Impact of the delay
The extent to which you will be affected by the delay will depend on whether you are a small, medium or large private sector organisation, a public body or a worker providing their services through a personal service company or other intermediary.
Medium and large private sector organisations
Medium and large private sector organisations (as defined for Companies Act 2006 purposes) who engage workers providing their services through an intermediary can carry on as normal for 2020/21, paying the intermediary gross. They will not need to undertake status determinations and deduct tax and National Insurance from the deemed payment to the worker’s intermediary where the worker would be an employee if their services were provided directly. A further plus is that they will not yet need to pay employer National Insurance contributions on the deemed payment. These changes will now become a reality from 6 April 2021 rather than from 6 April 2020.
Workers providing their services through an intermediary to medium and large private sector organisations
Had the reforms gone ahead as planned from 6 April 2020, the responsibility for determining whether the off-payroll working rules apply would have shifted to the end client where a worker provides his or her services to a medium or large private sector organisation through an intermediary. This shift will now not take place until 6 April 2021.
As a result, the worker’s intermediary will continue to be paid gross, regardless of whether the off-payroll working rules apply. Responsibility for determining whether IR35 applies remains with the worker’s intermediary for 2020/21. If it does, the worker’s intermediary must calculate the deemed payment at 5 April 2021 and account for tax and National Insurance on that deemed payment.
A word of caution here – if the worker would be an employee of the end client if they provided their services directly rather than through an intermediary, the worker’s intermediary will need to operate IR35. While HMRC have said that they will not use off-payroll working determinations to check IR35 compliance for past years, the delay in implementing the reforms is not a licence to ignore the rules.
Small private sector organisations
The extended off-payroll working rules do not apply to small private sector organisations. If you fall into this category and engage workers who provide their service through a personal service company, you should continue, both for 2020/21 and beyond, to make payments to the worker’s intermediary gross.
If you provide your services to a small private sector organisation via a personal service company, your personal service company must determine whether IR35 applies, and apply the IR35 rules if it does.
The delay has no impact on public bodies engaging workers through intermediaries. The rules as they apply where the end client is a public body were reformed from April 2017, and these will continue to apply for 2020/21 (albeit without the tweaks needed to make the rules suitable for application to the private sector).
The delay has no impact on workers providing their services through an intermediary to a public sector body either. The public sector body will continue to determine whether the off-payroll working rules apply, and deduct tax and National Insurance from payment where they do.
If you are unsure of how the off-payroll working rules apply to you, please contact us for advice.