Self-employed: Tax Avoidance

Treasury written question – answered on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Labour, Brentford and Isleworth

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will establish a statutory definition of the self-employed to better support status determinations for tax purposes under IR35.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Employment status is straightforward for the vast majority of people. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) developed the Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool in 2017 in conjunction with tax specialists, contractors, and other stakeholders, to support businesses in applying the off-payroll working rules correctly. CEST was further enhanced in November 2019.

In the vast majority of uses, CEST will determine whether the engagement is employed or self-employed for tax purposes. For those more complex or finely balanced cases where CEST produces an undetermined outcome, HMRC provide detailed guidance and dedicated support, including in the Employment Status Manual: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employment-status-manual. HMRC will stand by CEST’s results provided accurate and correct information is used, in accordance with HMRC's guidance.

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