In their policy paper “HMRC issue briefing: reform of off-payroll working rules” published on 22 October 2019, HMRC have stated that “have taken the decision that they will only use information resulting from these changes to open a new enquiry into earlier years if there is reason to suspect fraud or criminal behaviour.”

This is absolutely welcome news and will give contractors who are deemed inside IR35 a little comfort that their current contract will not be subject to enquiry purely because of a decision made by their engager.

It does not state that the information will not be used in the course of a random enquiry, or indeed an ongoing enquiry, just that it will not use the decision to open a new enquiry on the basis of it. The cynical among us might suggest that a whole screed of new enquiries could be opened up on “IR35 targets” before any decisions have been made.

This is definitely good news for contractors and its always good to hear HMRC communicate in clear, non-fuzzy language. Because we all know HMRC always do what they say, right?

It’s not the first time I’ve said this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but HMRC are a very fickle and capricious adversary and it is very difficult to second guess them.

More informaiton on this to follow.