Tax & admin · 9 August 2017

Two-thirds of freelancers want reformed tax system for self-employed

Many freelancers wanted to see an official minister for the self-employed appointed

As UK politicians prepare to return to the parliamentary day job, the nation’s freelancers and contractors have laid out their vision for how a fairer tax system for self-employed workers might look.

The current Conservative government’s relationship with the self-employed has been defined by a number of high profile policies evidently unpopular with freelancers – from the chancellor’s u-turn on Class 4 National Insurance contributions, to controversial new IR35 rules for public sector contractors.

Meanwhile, the tax free dividend allowance is set to reduce from £5,000 to £2,000 in April 2018.

According to new survey findings, collected by business insurer Qdos Calculator, 63 per cent of freelancers agreed that reforming the tax system in favour of, not against, self-employed people should be a priority for the returning government.

In particular, some 15.5 per cent of respondents wanted to see an designtated government minister for freelancers and contractors, while one in ten believed greater mortgage accessibility should be given.

Responding to the latest findings, Seb Maley, Qdos Contractor CEO, said the government now had the opportunity to “start afresh” and rebuild its “fractured relationship” with Britain’s 2m-strong freelance and contractor workforce.

“While there has been focus from Government on rebalancing what they consider to be an unfair tax system, very few of the changes proposed or enforced have been beneficial to freelancers and the self-employed,” he added.

Another possible aspect of a reformed tax system for self-employed workers could be in pension provision. Some seven per cent wanted policy makers to incentivise pensions.

Other plans, including the cutting of red tape and the “digitisation” of governmentwere priorities for 4.5 per cent of self-employed workers.

Maley added: “Freelancers and the self-employed take greater risks than those in employment, and work without the security of employee benefits such as sick and holiday pay, or employer’s pension contribution.

“Recent changes to IR35 in the public sector in particular has reduced one of the benefits of freelancing and contracting. And, given the vast majority of the self-employed work this way for the freedom and independence it brings, rather than to exploit the tax system, perhaps it is time for a tax rethink.

“The UK’s independent workforce is absolutely vital to the economy. So put simply, it’s in the best interests of the government to build a tax system which allows freelancers and contractors to flourish and continue working this way, rather than making their lives more complicated.”

Freelancer election manifesto looks to strip HMRC of policy making powers

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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