The Contract Review Service (CRS) offered by HMRC to go over freelancer’s and contractor’s contracts is not very well trusted it has been found.

A review of the CRS was carried out and the key points released at the latest IR35 Forum meeting. They were:

  • that the reviews are worth doing, but not enough people were taking advantage of them

  • that HMRC should make a bigger effort to highlight the confidentiality of the service

  • that HMRC should be less strict in what they deal with, such as allowing reviews of unsigned contracts

It’s been suggest that freelancers and contractors simply do not trust the CRS and to fix that HMRC should work hard to change these opinions. It was also revealed that HMRC had come to the Forum for help on the matter as they deemed it “almost impossible” to increase trust without the support of respected partners.

To solve this problem, it has been put forward that new guidance should stress that making a disclosure is separate from the compliance and CRS teams. There has been concern about this before as HMRC uses its own staff to carry out the CRS therefore causing worries about independence of departments.

There was also a discussion in the meeting to see if there was a way to assess people as a whole rather than contract by contract. Unfortunately this was shot down by HMRC who said that legislation means assessments must be on a contract by contract basis.

General levels of trust in HMRC have been taking a hit recently with the announcement of new powers allowing them to take money from people’s bank accounts with no external checks.
Photo by HMRC.