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Don't be taken in by the taxman's tactics


Sir, In the past year we have seen two mass mailshots from HM Revenue & Customs.

They were intended to persuade contractors that they must put their subcontractors on the books, and to tell the subcontractors that they have the right to 'employee' benefits, such as holiday pay.

The Revenue called these mailshots 'Project Leverage'.

The Revenue has always been target-driven and the blinkered pursuit of those targets leads to an unrealistic and incorrect understanding of the industry and how it works.

It is not interested in looking at the facts and correctly applying the law on employment status.

One inspector we recently met regarding a subcontractor said he was 'obliged at this stage to say that they should all be employees'.

This was despite the fact that he had not seen any of the contracts and had not asked any questions about the subcontractor's working arrangements.

This seems to be a clear indication of HMRC's policy.

How are construction companies supposed to function when faced with this blinkered attitude? It is despicable that the Revenue can operate in this manner with no regard for the industry's actual working arrangements.

Its attitude is founded on greed.

But simply because the Revenue does operate in this manner does not mean it should be allowed to succeed.

It is impor tant to remember that the Revenue only gives an opinion ? it is not the law.

Furthermore, when that opinion is given with the Government's targets in mind, it is likely to be wrong and inconsistent.

In the end the courts will decide whether individuals are truly employees, and the courts are not shackled by the Revenue's 'guidance' nor by r idiculous statements regarding how many subcontractors are wrongly classified within the construction sector.

In the vast majority of cases, individuals are correctly classified for tax.

If construction companies seek professional help in corresponding with the Revenue, the reality of the situation can be made clear.

Mark Taylor LLB (Hons) Accountax Consulting Milton Keynes Buckinghamshire