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IR35, a Shady Operation?

Anonymous phone calls, strange phoney agents, non-existent addresses? This may sound like the makings of some cheesy FBI movie, but this is what some IT contractors are reporting, and paranoia is surfacing… are the HMRC somehow connected? Is IR35 scrutiny taking a nasty turn? Do those who make the rules then not have to play by them?

Blogs and rumours exist all over the internet with IT contractors reporting strange phone conversations with people taking large ‘interest’ in their wages, details and professional information. These strange calls have been taking place from as early as 2008, and most stories sound the same…

One contractor commented on one of these peculiar conversations saying, ‘He asked me details on how I worked with clients on a day to day basis – which did I work for, what interaction did I have, and what involvement did I have with perm staff?At first I thought that it must be an agent, and then he asked about how many renewals I'd had, which was strange. Then he commented on my ‘loyalty’ and asked me what I thought about contractors being loyal. I thought the call odd; but some agent calls are strange. It dawned on me afterward that he claimed to have a CV from 2004 – and I moved home and phone number in 2006. And when I suggested I send him my CV he claimed his email wasn't working and gave me an address for his manager, which bounced.’

Now this may seem irrelevant and unremarkable to some people, and exceptionally creepy to others, but it cannot be denied that these ‘strange’ phone calls echo the prints of the HMRC and their scrutinising IR35 team. Of course, it could well be agents fishing for leads in a rather backwards fashion.

These comments that are plastered on the internet may just be due to needless scaremongering, or perhaps something more. With new rules and regulations regarding IR35 being introduced frequently by the HMRC at present, it is not surprising that some people are getting paranoid and sceptical of IR35 enquiries, and regardless of what these phone calls mean, the existence of this worry proves that contractors are worried and are increasingly concerned with an ever changing approach to IR35.

By Troy Stevens

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