Status experts Qdos have recently launched a new IR35-related service for contractors which provides a full legal opinion of their IR35 status. Earlier this year Qdos expanded the practicing registration of their legal service, which means they can combine their IR35 expertise with in house solicitors to give contractors a far higher level of certainty when it comes to their status.
The Legal Opinion is administered through Qdos’ accountancy arm and is one of the benefits of their Assured IR35 service. It can also be purchased on a standalone basis here and Contractor Weekly has agreed a 20% discount for its readers (simply enter the code CW2014 on checkout).
Qdos Director Seb Maley said: “Since IR35 was introduced contractors have never really been able to get any certainty of their status short of contacting HMRC. Providing an evidence based legal opinion signed off by a qualified solicitor will give definitive clarity for those concerned about the legislation”.
Qdos have won over 1,300 status cases brought by HMRC and currently carry out over 600 contract reviews and assessments every month for contractors; a figure that is rising due to HMRC’s renewed interest in IR35.
“A standard contract review is always going to be vital, as it will give all the pointers you need to ensure you are working compliantly,” Maley says. “What it can’t give is any kind of guarantee. However, because the Legal Opinion is issued by a solicitor, it is naturally backed up by indemnity insurance should the opinion turn out to differ from that of HMRC at a Tax Tribunal”.
With their Legal Opinion Qdos will carry out a detailed review of the contractor’s written contract, actual working practices and Business Entity Test results. If the position is considered to be ‘inside IR35’ the opinion will be issued as such, but the contractor will be given all information required to make any necessary changes. The opinion can then be re-issued as ‘outside IR35’ if all recommendations have been carried out.
The documentation the contractor receives contains the IR35 Legal Opinion, a status evidence pack and Qdos’ contact details that can be presented to HMRC in the event of an IR35 enquiry, meaning a fast and strong response can be given to the Revenue’s opening questions. The Legal Opinion is re-reviewed and re-issued annually, ensuring that any changes to the contractor’s circumstances or the legislation itself are covered.
Maley says the new service is in response to raised levels of concern about IR35 following a significant increase in activity: “HMRC are not backing down on their pledge to strengthen the policing of IR35 and we’re inundated with contractors who perhaps haven’t previously fully considered the risks”.