Contractors more concerned about HMRC’s attitude than Brexit

A poll of more than 1,000 contractors and freelancers has revealed that they are currently more concerned about HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) attitudes towards the self-employed than the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU.

When asked to highlight the most significant threat to their business next year, an incredible 83 per cent of respondents said HMRC’s treatment of the self-employed.

In comparison, only 11 per cent said Brexit was the main threat, while four per cent said that general political uncertainty in the UK was their main concern.

The survey found that two-fifths of contractors didn’t know what impact Brexit would have on their prospects and just over a third said it would have negative implications. A fifth thought it would have no impact at all, while a further five per cent said it would be positive.

The results of the survey are not surprising considering that HMRC has recently introduced several changes to the law aimed at tackling perceived tax avoidance by contractors and freelancers.

The introduction of the controversial loan charge and the upcoming extension of IR35 into the private sector are just two examples of why contractors feel that they are under threat from the tax authority.

However, although the changes are unpopular, the survey by insurers Qdos found that only 10 per cent of contractors plan to stop contracting when they come into effect.

Around half said they would continue working as they currently do, while 40 per cent remained undecided on their future.

In response to the survey, HMRC said: “The government values the contribution of all flexible workers to the UK economy. The reforms don’t stop people working through their own companies; they help ensure the right tax is paid. The changes ensure consistency in the administration of the off-payroll working rules across all sectors.”

It reiterated that individuals who were “genuinely self-employed” could remain so after the reforms.