On 6th January, representatives of the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) attended a meeting with HMRC officials to discuss the proposed new public sector IR35 rules and to comment on the latest version of HMRC’s planned new online tool.

“The meeting, which was attended by a number of large agencies and some public sector representatives, provided a useful opportunity to question HMRC on some of the anomalies that are apparent in the proposals”, says Adrian Marlowe, Chairman of ARC.

“For example, the rules on liability need clarification to make them fairer. However HMRC’s approach was receptive and, while the tool is not yet in final form, we anticipate further improvements and we will continue to work with HMRC. ARC will be responding to the current consultation on the draft legislation shortly. In the meantime, our view is that the problem is that the test of employment status under IR35 is too complex to provide certainty, which is what is needed. This itself leads to tax avoidance. Instead of hanging on to old, ‘tried and failed’ legislation, the core legislation itself should be simplified, removing ambiguity and potential for conflict.”

Last year ARC published its 2016 Manifesto, which calls for change to all agency related legislation. Marlowe continues, “IR35 falls within the ambit of our manifesto – now is the time to modernise and get tax avoidance out of the equation for agencies.”

ARC is holding a conference to discuss the proposed IR35 rules and the online tool and its application on 9th February in London with various expert speakers. Also on the agenda is the Apprenticeship Levy.