If you work as a self-employed contractor, the recent IR35 reforms are something you need to understand. You may also need to seriously consider securing the right kind of IR35 insurance, such as Kingsbridge IR35 Protect.
Large sums of money are at stake if you are subject to an IR35 investigation by HM Revenue and Customs. And even if you’re confident that the IR35 rules don’t apply to your working arrangements, you could find still yourself in hot water.
What is IR35?
Officially named the off-payroll working rules, IR35 assesses whether a contractor is genuinely working as a contractor, rather than a disguised employee. It was initially introduced in 2000 to close the loophole that allowed contractors and freelancers to pay less tax by working like regular employees, but with pay sent through an intermediary, such as a personal service company (PSC).
In the UK government’s words, the IR35 rules exist to “make sure that workers, who would have been an employee if they were providing their services directly to the client, pay broadly the same Income Tax and National Insurance contributions as employees.”
To whom does IR35 apply?
You may be affected by the off-payroll working rules if you are:
- A worker providing your services to a client through an intermediary.
- A client receiving services from a worker through an intermediary.
- An agency providing workers’ services through an intermediary.
What does IR35 mean by an intermediary?
In most cases, the intermediary is the worker’s own personal services company (PSC). The arrangement is that the client contracts are with the company, not the worker.
It’s beneficial in some instances because self-employed people pay lower income tax levels and/or National Insurance contributions. Working through an intermediary can lower these levels further.
IR35 Insurance Cover
Our IR35 Protect cover is a market-leading insurance product available as a stand-alone policy or as an addition to our core business insurance package. It primarily protects limited company contractors from the potentially crippling costs that can follow an IR35 enquiry. They can include defence costs, taxes and interest — on top of any penalties payable to HMRC.
IR35 Protect includes our standard Legal Expenses cover and additionally provides:
- Cover for taxes, interest and penalties for IR35 investigations.
- Flexible cover/protection for the party held liable by HMRC in an IR35 investigation, whether this is you or your fee payer.
- Cover for tax, PAYE and NIC investigations, contract disputes, personal injury claims, identity theft, jury service and a debt recovery service (legal expenses cover).
Kingsbridge cover is unique in its flexibility, which is vital now that the reformed IR35 is in place. It covers whichever party HMRC decides to investigate, whether that’s you, your end client or your recruitment agency. Therefore, it provides peace of mind throughout the supply chain.
We provide IR35 status reviews using the award-winning Kingsbridge Status Tool, which is exclusive to us. At this time, we are the only IR35 solution provider combining an automated review process with in-house consultancy support for borderline cases to give you the most accurate IR35 result and guidance available.
You can also refer your recruiter or end client to our IR35 consultancy team to discuss their off-payroll approach.
Legal Expenses insurance provides cover for legal defence and professional fees relating to IR35 investigations. It includes tax, PAYE and NIC investigations, contract disputes and personal injury claims. Our legal expenses insurance even provides a debt recovery service and cover for loss of wages if you’re off work for jury service.
Legal Expenses (Insurance Only)
Legal and professional fees relating to an IR35 investigation
Cover for tax, PAYE and NIC investigations, contract disputes, personal injury claims, identity theft, jury service and a debt recovery service.
IR35 Protect (Essential)
Legal Expenses cover
Cover for taxes, interest and penalties for IR35 investigations. The policy flexes to protect the party held liable by HMRC in an IR35 investigation, whether this is you or your fee payer.
IR35 Protect (Premium)
Legal Expenses cover
IR35 Protect cover
Unlimited access to the Kingsbridge Status Tool
How to determine your IR35 status without undergoing an HMRC inspection
The exclusive Kingsbridge IR35 status tool is a reliable way to find out if you’re at risk of failing an IR35 investigation. The tool was developed by Andy Vessey, Head of Tax at Kingsbridge. Andy has successfully defended more than 550 IR35 enquiries, so you can rest assured that the logic driving it is based on critical factors from real-life IR35 enquiry cases.
We are the only IR35 insurance provider to combine an automated review process with in-house consultancy support for borderline cases. With Kingsbridge, you can rely on having the most accurate IR35 results and guidance available anywhere.
A single review costs just £50 plus VAT. Better still, purchase our IR35 Protect Premium package, and you get unlimited access to our Status Tool.
Why choose Kingsbridge?
- We are specialist insurers of self-employed contractors, freelance professionals and sole traders.
- We are a market leading IR35 consultancy for contractors, agencies and end clients.
- We understand how contractors work, so you won’t need to explain what’s different about your business.
- No need to shop around, we can provide all your business insurance needs.
- A-rated insurers underwrite all Kingsbridge policies.
- Premiums are competitive, no hidden fees or charges.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When will I get my IR35 results?
If you don’t get an instant inside or outside IR35 result through our automated tool, our IR35 consultancy team will assess your answers and get back to you within 5 working days. Please note that the cut-off time to submit your assessment within a ‘working day’ is 5.30pm.
- Is my IR35 result legally binding?
Our IR35 tool was created and is overseen by experts that have been working in the IR35 arena for decades, and we can provide a thorough, accurate IR35 result. However, the IR35 legislation itself is built on case law, and as such no status determination is legally binding – not even from HMRC’s own CEST tool.
- Can my IR35 result change at a later date?
Yes – much like when you see IR35 tribunal appeals produce a different outcome depending on the Judge, your IR35 status could be re-reviewed at a later date and change. This only usually happens with very borderline cases however, and we’ll highlight problem areas for you to work on to avoid this possibility.
- Is an IR35 status review the same as a contract or working practices review?
No, all three are different products. A status review via the Kingsbridge IR35 tool will ask a set of expertly crafted questions that take into account a 360 view of your contract and working practices to produce an automated, instant answer (in most cases). A contract review only looks at your contract terms and a working practices review only looks at – you guessed it – your working practices. In most cases, a status review will give the most accurate employment status determination based on the information you provide.
- What happens if my IR35 status review produces an inside result?
If you land inside IR35 don’t worry – there are things that can be done to change your determination. We’ll highlight problem areas that have caused the inside result and suggest you speak to either your recruiter or end client to collaboratively amend them. You can then get another review to check if your amends have been sufficient to change your determination.
- Do you include recommendations on changes to my contract or working practices?
Not explicitly, but we do highlight problem areas within your answers and are happy to offer guidance over the phone (this is usually necessary for borderline cases in particular). It’s then for you and your recruiter or end client to work together to make sure you’re safely outside IR35.
- Can I speak to the assessor about my IR35 status?
If you would like to discuss your review, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Borderline cases will usually need at least one conversation with the assessor to help you properly understand the issues with your employment status. IR35 Protect policy holders have access to an IR35 helpline available to answer any questions you may have, we also offer in-depth, free guides on our Knowledge Hub that may be able to help you.
- Can you liaise with the end client or agency on my behalf for any amends?
Our IR35 status tool has been specifically designed to provide an IR35 result that is usable for clients, recruiters, and contractors alike. Your IR35 report will give you key areas to work on and we recommended taking this back to your client to discuss any changes required. You can refer them to our IR35 consultancy team who will be happy to talk to them about their approach to IR35.
- What happens if I only fix some of the IR35 problems that you've highlighted?
Often just changing one or two problematic aspects of your contract or working practices is enough to swing the needle. You very rarely see a ‘perfectly outside IR35’ set of circumstances – as long as the ‘outside’ points outweigh the ‘inside’ you should be fine. Once you think you’ve made enough changes, or you’ve made as many as your client will agree to, it’s always best to get another review to check if your results have improved.
- Will you re-review my IR35 assessment after I've made changes, or do I need to purchase another one?
If you opt for the Premium IR35 Protect package, you’ll be able to take advantage of unlimited IR35 status assessments. If you’ve bought a standalone assessment and get a borderline result, our IR35 expert team will review your answers and provide a detailed response regarding the problem areas. If you agree changes with your client, we will amend your assessment and re-review your position provided these changes are made within a reasonable time period and the basic arrangements are still the same.
- Are there any circumstances in which my IR35 Protect policy may not be valid?
You need an up to date outside IR35 status determination in order for your IR35 Protect policy to respond in the event of a claim. Provided your IR35 status has been assessed and found to be outside IR35 via the Kingsbridge IR35 Status Tool, or another approved reviewer (Brookson, Champion, and Larsen Howie for retro cover), our cover will be valid.
- Are you required to have IR35 insurance?
No, but IR35 insurance is a sensible choice for any contractor working through a PSC.
- What does “inside IR35” and “outside IR35” mean?
“Inside IR35” means that you are considered an employee of your end client for tax purposes, and therefore subject to PAYE and National Insurance. “Outside IR35” means that you are operating as a genuine business and therefore outside the IR35 rules.
Full terms, conditions and exclusions can be found here.
Visit our Knowledge Hub for news and guidance on IR35 and all the things contracting.