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Freelancers scrutinise the Autumn Statement

Freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed Brits have been going over the Autumn Statement with a fine-toothed comb to see whether Chancellor Osborne has positive changes planned on the horizon.

The chancellor's Autumn Statement has been under all sorts of scrutiny from media outlets in the days following in order to understand what's in store for the freelancer community in the coming year.

Of particular interest to any contract worker doing business as a limited company - or the much-maligned "personal service company" - in regards to the rampant IR35 reform rumours that have been swirling. Major media outlets such as the Guardian and the Mail have broken stories concerning how plans were in the works for turning contract workers into PAYE employees after working for a client for any time over a month - a move that would have made an impact on 9 out of the 10 freelance workers using a PSC.

However, the Autumn Statement was notably bereft of any mention of such a policy, leading industry experts to posit that the overwhelming negative response to the rumours might have swayed Chancellor Osborne to drop the controversial plan. The alternative - that the rumour was simply false and that the planned policy change wasn't going to be implemented in the first place - is also a possibility, according to many media outlets.

Despite this, IR35 reforms are still slated to go into effect from April of next year, with the possibility existing that they will be strengthened even further to make it more difficult to engage in activities that have been classified as tax aovoidance. Disguised renumeration schemes were specifically mentioned by the chancellor as being under the gun, with Employee Benefit Trusts being one strong example of schemes that have existed in a legal grey area for some time.

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Image: George Osborne by mrarethm