TAX OFFICIALS are being accused of underhand tactics in their campaign to force subcontractors into direct employment.
HM Revenue & Customs' regional office in Dorset & South Wiltshire has been sending postal questionnaires to subbies.
The eight-page document contains 68 questions designed to determine employment status.
But tax experts have attacked the form as a cynical ploy to 'trip-up' subbies so the Revenue can switch them out of self-employment and back on the books.
Howard Royse, CIS expert at the Institute of Chartered Accountants, said: 'I cannot see this as anything else than a deliberate attempt to trip-up people who are unlikely to fully understand the potential spin that could be put on their answers.
'It's not going to firms or individual accountants but direct to the subcontractors.
It's just a sneaky way of trying to get the subbies to drop themselves in it.' Mr Royse sits on an industry committee that holds regular meetings with the Revenue over the CIS scheme.
And the group will be discussing the tough line taken over employment status at its next meeting on March 1.
He said: 'The tax district in Dorset and South Wiltshire is cracking down extremely harshly on CIS certificate renewals and we will be bringing that up at next month's meeting.
'In the meantime my advice to subcontractors who receive anything like this from the Revenue is to file it in the bin.' An HMRC spokesman said: ''We have a duty to ensure that workers' terms and conditions accurately ref lect their employment status.
'In the course of an HMRC review of employment status, it will attempt to speak to both parties in order to fully establish the terms of a particular engagement.
'But it is not always possible to speak directly with the worker for varying practical reasons. In those circumstances HMRC often chooses to write to the worker. Some operational offices choose to use a questionnaire when doing this.'