IR35: HMRC’s Enhanced CEST Service

In case you missed it, HMRC have quietly starting offering a new IR35 service which aims to ensure their Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool is used accurately.  You can now ring HMRC for help with off-payroll queries, and a full run-through of the CEST tool. 

This new service entails a HMRC officer running through the CEST process with you over the phone and aims to help you to conclude whether or not an assignment is inside or our outside IR35.

In order to use the new service, you will need to ensure your personal details and address is up to date in your personal tax account.  The helpline will need to ask you some security questions and if your personal tax account is not up to date then you might fail some of those questions.  If you haven’t already got a personal tax account, you can set one up before accessing HMRC’s helpline for off-payroll.

Many contractors already use HMRC’s CEST tool as a mechanism to check the IR35 Status Determination Statement (SDS) they have been given by their client.

If the individual contractor wishes they can now seek further advice via HMRC’s off-payroll helpline, however it seems that they will need to provide their personal tax details in order to do so.  We don’t know if this information will be retained by HMRC, or why they need it in the first place given that the purpose of the CEST tool was intended to be independent.

However, the development is positive in terms of supporting contractors in establishing accurate IR35 status determinations from their clients.

For more information about HMRC’s service, click here.


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