13. 12. 2019

A simple guide to the effect of Off Payroll in the Private Sector (IR35) on contractor's pay

Until April 2020, when the Government will implement this new legislation, it is the contractor’s responsibility to determine whether they are operating inside (also known as caught by) IR35 or outside IR35, and whether the same tax should be paid as if the contractor was employed by the end client. Should HMRC decide to investigate the true workings of their contract and find the contractor had made the wrong determination then their personal service company is liable for any unpaid taxes.

From 5 April 2020 the responsibility, and therefore any potential tax liabilities, falls with the engager if they are medium or large, (small businesses are exempt, more specifically those where two of the following apply – turnover less than £10.2m, balance sheet less than £5.1m, not more than 50 employees). The company paying your personal service company (generally the agency) will be liable for submitting the Income Tax and National Insurance that becomes payable if the role is considered inside IR35 (the same deductions that would be made if a contractor deems themselves caught under current legislation). It will receive confirmation from the end client who will have a legal responsibility to provide that opinion, or determination, for the role.

This means that if your end client is medium or large, it will have to undertake an IR35 assessment for each assignment and decide whether you are operating inside or outside IR35.


The changes apply to those working through a limited company. They will not make any difference to workers using an umbrella company as all income is already taxed as employment income.


If the assignment is deemed outside IR35 then the director/shareholder can continue to extract profits in a combination of salary and dividends.

If the assignment is deemed inside IR35 then all of the fees will be subject to income tax and national insurance. Simply put, VAT is paid on the gross amount, the employer’s NI (your PSCs NI) is paid over by the agency, along with employee’s NI and PAYE, and you are paid the net plus the full VAT figure. No more tax (ie corporation tax, dividend tax) is due on this payment and it can be taken straight out of your company. Your pay rate will be lower than if it was outside IR35 with this difference being the Employer’s NI (and Apprenticeship Levy if applicable depending on the size of the agencie's staff and deemed payroll).


For example, a contractor caught inside IR35 who is used to earning £500 per day outside IR35, is likely now to be offered a rate of around £435 per day inside IR35 (the difference being the submissions that agency needs to make to HMRC for Employer’s NI, as well as the apprenticeship levy if it applies – this is no different from paying £500 per day and the PSC submitting the Employer’s NI – it’s just that this now has to be made on the agency’s ‘deemed’ payroll (the contractor is classed as a ‘deemed employee’). From the £435 per day, employment deductions of Employee’s NI and PAYE will be made, before the ‘deemed’ payment is made to the ltd company.

If one simply compares £500 per day to the new payment of £435 less deductions, then clearly there is a significant difference.

But it is not that simple as there are other rules / obligations that need to be considered.

For those INSIDE IR35:

Your company is paid the Deemed Payment (the net payment after deductions made to the contractor’s ltd company):
Once the deemed payment is made to the ltd company, you still need a way of taking that money out of your ltd company. This can be done in 2 ways:

1. Dividends:
If you’re a director of your own company, you might choose to pay yourself a dividend from the company’s profits. You can pay yourself a tax-free dividend up to the total of the deemed direct payment received from contracts in the public sector, where Income Tax and NICs have been deducted at source. You don’t need to declare that dividend on your Self Assessment tax return.

2. Payroll: 
You can pay yourself for the work provided to your client through your company’s payroll. As employment taxes have already been paid on the amount your intermediary (your ltd company) receives, you can pay yourself that amount without deducting Income Tax or NICs.

And the icing on the cake:

No Corporation Tax…

When you are calculating your company’s turnover, you should deduct the VAT exclusive amount of the invoice, which is the amount from which Income Tax and NICs were deducted at source. Your company accounts should show this deduction to make sure the amount is not taxed twice.

So to put it simply, the amount paid to you by the agency is yours to take out of your PSC (your ltd company) WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DEDUCTIONS.

For those OUTSIDE IR35

To get your £500 per day out of your ltd company, again you can pay yourself dividends, or a salary (or mixture of both)


The tax advantages between dividends and salary are diminishing but, nevertheless, there is still a slight advantage to dividends. As opposed to the Inside options above, your dividend will be liable to dividend tax, AND corporation tax.


You can take it as salary – but your company will be liable for Employer’s NI (aha, so there’s the difference between the £500 and £435 already gone), then there are the same NI and PAYE deductions taken that were taken for your deemed payment, meaning that if you were to pay yourself purely by means of a salary, your take-home will be the same as if you received the deemed payment from the agency.

And to keep things really simple, using a compliant umbrella company means that the legislation will not apply, you will not have the headache of running a company, and your net pay will be virtually identical to a deemed payment.

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