Being a contractor in the UK requires taking care of your own personal expenses and earnings. With this brings paperwork and the responsibility of managing taxes. Permanent workers don't have this worry because most companies will have a dedicated finance department.
Before choosing to contract in the UK, the decision of either setting up a limited company, also known as a personal service company, or to simply use an umbrella company. Who will take care of all the tax issues, whilst providing additional benefits.
Both options are chosen on an individual basis, where normally umbrella companies are used for those choosing to contract short term. And limited companies being used for long term contracting. This is because tax savings can be much greater, but will require additional work.
So, What Are Personal Service Companies?
As previously mentioned, when choosing to set up a limited company is usually the result of a contractor seeking to benefit from tax savings and therefore increasing their take home pay. This is possible because limited companies enable contractors to be outside of the IR35 legislation. It is under this company that contractors will be working under, during any client work.
The tax efficiency of limited companies works by splitting a contractors income between their salary and dividends. This results in the contractor not having to pay national insurance contribution in their income. It s also essential for any freelance contractor to use a limited company or umbrella, otherwise no client would employ the contractor.
Here is a quick highlight of the benefits gained when working through a personal service company:
- Can be the most tax efficient way of earning,
- You become your own boss,
- In control of when and where you work,
- Ability to claim expenses,
In 1999 the term 'personal service company' was created, by HMRC, shortly after the introduction of IR35. But unfortunately the classification of what can identify limited companies as being a personal service companies is limited. This allows HMRC to be flexible during tax investigations.
The Problems That Exist
Unfortunately for those using this form of managing their payroll, they can often be viewed as attempting to dodge tax. Amongst negative press regarding this issue, the HMRC may be set to introducing new legislation on their use. The new legislation would treat contractors as though they were an employee, therefore requiring to pay national insurance and tax at the source, by their new 'employee'.
This could be a major problem for a large majority of those contracting long-term in the UK. For those currently with an umbrella company need not worry. Although this is an issue that every contractor should be aware of for future reference.