HMRC Research: off-payroll working rules (IR35)

Title: Communications Research: Off-payroll working rules (IR35)

Qualitative research with contractors providing services through a Personal Service Company

Research Report 591 (Ipsos MORI)

HMRC Behavioural, Insight and Research Team

Executive Summary

HMRC developed a series of messages and communications products aimed at contractors providing services through a PSC to communicate these changes. The aim of this research was to establish awareness of the changes amongst contractors and their understanding of the messaging and communications products tested, specifically their understanding of whether and how they will be affected and what they need to do as a result of the changes.


Participants in this research wanted detailed information on how they would be affected by the IR35reformsand what this would mean for how they meet their tax obligations in the future. They were more interested in this than why the changes were being introduced.

After reading the fact sheet and the flowchart, participants understood when the IR35 reforms were being introduced; that after this date their hirer would be responsible for determining their employment status and they would be given a Status Determination Certificate telling them what this was. They also understood that HMRC will not look into use of PSCs in earlier years unless they suspect fraud. This was a particularly important and valued piece of information.


RSH Comment

It is interesting to note that a lot of the terminology in this area is not understood such as intermediary, personal service company, PSC, off-payroll working and hirer. So, when referring to off-payroll working most sources are still advised to put IR35 in brackets afterwards, to give context.

Despite HMRC’s various communication channels, most contractors were getting their information from other sources such as their accountant, from LinkedIn, the mainstream media and individual What’s App groups.

Contractors in general still appear to be largely unaware of the upcoming changes in 2021 and how it will impact on them from a tax point of view.

Published: 3 September 2020