The importance of using a compliant umbrella company
With the impending rollout of the off-payroll rules in the private sector, closely mirroring the rollout to the public sector that we saw rushed through in April 2017, the importance of working through a compliant umbrella company is as important as ever. Clearly, not all contractors use umbrella companies, and the continued use of a PSC is still acceptable, but not always to best approach if the off-payroll rules (essentially IR35) applies to your assignment.
With the public sector rollout, the industry saw an increase in more dubious umbrella companies offering loan schemes to reduce (avoid) tax and NI contributions. Essentially, with these schemes, a contractor would be paid from an employee benefit trust in the form or an interest free loan that is never expected to be repaid. Unfortunately, and often unbeknown to contractors, these schemes are illegal and HMRC is determined to close them. Perhaps more concerning for any contractor that has been remunerated in this way is that HMRC is also entitled to collect unpaid taxes and NICs due on the loan payments, going back as far as April 1999!! This has come as quite a shock to as many as 50,000 contactors who have used them, many receiving life changing demands, some over £100,000. It is estimated if a contractor earning as ‘little’ as £40,000 per year over 5 years has been paid in this way they could face a tax bill of over £50,000.
As a responsible agency we have a preferred list of umbrella companies that we provide to our contractors but on many occasions a contractor has their own preferred option. In these circumstances we will carry out due diligence on these to ensure they are compliant although if we are provided with false information we cannot always guarantee HMRC will not be knocking on the contractor’s door in the future. For any contractor that believes their agency will have to pick up their tax bill, you will find you are sadly mistaken unless your agency clearly coerced you into using a non-compliant umbrella offering such an illegal scheme. Any reputable agency would not dream of taking such as risk.
The moral of this is if it appears too good to be true, it probably is. And it will come back to haunt you.
Our compliance team are here to assist with all on boarding and are happy to provide our extensive list of compliance umbrella service providers.