back to article IR35 tax is a huge failure

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Professional Contractors Group has been able to find out how much tax the British government has raised from IR35. IR35 was introduced in 2000, as a means for the Government to stamp out what it considered to be "disguised employee" arrangements, which reduced tax and national …

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  1. Mike
    Alert

    ' – but he’s not stupid'

    And your evidence for this claim is ?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think you're forgetting something...

    Does that figure include the people who are now "doing it legit" - either as permies or as "proper" small businesses - rather than taking the piss as long-term contractors? Bet it doesn't.

  3. Chris Miller
    Unhappy

    Be fair

    Someone has to pay for the moat-cleaning and duck houses that are part of the 'necessary and exclusive' costs of being an MP. So why not freelancers?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Evidence please

    "We know that Gordon Brown is not stupid"

    Really? I don't know that and judging by his grasp of elementary economics in announcing just when and how much of our gold he's selling I beg to differ.

    As further evidence I offer the shambling wreck of an economy the Prime Mentalist and the former chancellor of the exchequer have created in Britain.

    As even further evidence I offer a man who's too stupid to know when the games up and clings to 'power' even at the expense of the country and his party.

    In fact the only good thing is that when we FINALLY get to vote for him as PM he will be cast into oblivion for 30 years...IMO.

    God protect us from Cameron too. He's far too Bliar for my taste.

    A plague on both their taxpayer funded houses!

  5. Ash
    Joke

    Outrageous!

    "Surely the Government will have to drop IR35 too, now that the cat is out of the bag."

    How DARE you bring logic and common sense to a story regarding politics! I'm afraid you're going to have to re-read the appendix of your Press Dictionary, the 11th Commandment especially:

    "Thou shalt not apply critical thinking to a story related to current political climate, lest ye be mocked publicly for stating the obvious while knowing that nothing will change."

  6. Tom Cook
    Thumb Down

    A bit optimistic, methinks...

    Gordon brown may be obstinate, and he may be not stupid, but he probably has other, bigger things on his mind just now.

  7. Chris
    Unhappy

    Careful what you wish for!

    The current situation doesn't cause a problem for most people. There's a tiny chance that you will get investigated, and even tinier that you'll get caught out by it. It would be nice if the government eradicated this tax without replacing it... but Labour will probably just make things worse. They don't care about our votes, they've been ignoring vast swathes of the public for a long time.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course IR35 doesn't raise much money

    It's intended to force people into mainstream taxation by plugging the previous loophole with something so expensive that nobody uses it.

    The only thing this figure shows is that there are still people stupid enough to not use a decent accountant.

  9. H2Nick

    obstinate – but he’s not stupid.????

    Are you kidding ???

    What about the removal of the 10% tax rate then - he either didn't think it through or he very cynically didn't care that some of the poorest people would see their tax nearly doubled -

    (not quite doubled, as personal allowance was originally going to be increased by (only) £210)

    I think he tries hard to do the right thing (just fails miserably), which only leaves not-very-bright

  10. Gordon Paterson

    The Point?!

    "IR35 was introduced in 2000, as a means for the Government to stamp out what it considered to be "disguised employee" arrangements that reduced tax and national insurance payment of supposed freelancers by 25 per cent."

    Given the point above there are really two answers to the low tax return...

    a) the tax was succesful in its aim and "disguised emplyees" are now real employees paying normal tax.

    or

    b) there wasn't as many "disguised employees" as thought in the first place.

    of course there is always a third option.

    c) contractors started working differently to avoid the rules.

  11. ChrisB

    But let's not just ignore it.

    PCG must and will continue the fight to ensure that freelancers operate on a level playing field with the rest of the consultancy market.

    Although PCG's FoI request has shown that the tax take on IR35 investigations is paltry (and probably results in a net cost to UK taxpayers) there's still a lot of work to do to ensure that freelancers can trade without ridiculous, punitive, vindictive and fundamentally flawed red-tape being put in our way.

    And yes, I am an interested party - I am a freelancer and also the current Chairman of PCG.

  12. ThisTimeNextYear
    Coat

    What a typical waste of time that was

    Thankyou FOIA - what a waste of money.

    Mind you IR35 did scare some of the shall we say "less skilled" contractors into being permies which kept the rates up nicely after the dot com bust and in my experience, not many of those who went to the dark side then have since "seen the light".

    Hope they don't all go back into contracting when the tories scrap this rediculous tax.

  13. Sooty

    I thought

    the purpose of this was to stop contractors abusing the system, being permant staff in all but name, not to make money.

    this has done that as now contractors are now careful to avoid having to pay these extras.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Misleading statistics

    I'm not a fan of IR35, but this article doesn't paint the whole picture as it ignores those contractors who simply decided voluntarily to operate within IR35. I imagine that many would not consider it worth the risk of an investigation. But because they've never been before a court or the commissioners, they wouldn't show up in these figures.

    To see the real impact of IR35, we need to know how many contractors were operating in 'IR35-style' (i.e. paying full tax and NICs on their income) and how many were not, both before and after the introduction of the IR35 legislation.

    The government isn't worried about its £9m, it's worried about the mass of contractors who would switch back to dividends/paying family members, etc. if IR35 were to be repealed.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm

    Contractors, not that much different from MP's really.

    No surprise really .. FFS just pay your bloody NI contribution and tax like everyone else.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    This sums up the UK

    Crap tax system, punishing those who work hard and innovate for a living whilst a good chunk of society have never worked a day in their lives.

    I live in a country which has a very progressive approach to taxation (Switzerland) - so progressive in fact that OECD has us on the grey list.

    If tax was perceived to be "fair" then fewer would seek to avoid and fewer still to evade. This, in turn, brings down the costs of collecting tax. It is not, as NuLabour would seem to think, rocket science.

    I will be relocating some time in the next 12-18 months and I've ruled out the UK because it's overcrowded, overtaxed, overpriced, broken and, frankly, a poo hole.

  17. MnM
    Happy

    But think of the duck houses

    How on earth will these be funded without this essential tax???

    That's made my day. And it's sunny. Think I'll take the rest of the week off!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Oh good,

    A simple mathematical formula, Government + idea = Fail

    Does that mean that all those unemployed contractors eh, sorry, "disguised employees" can now claim welfare?

    http://www.itcontractor.com/Articles_IR35_News_Advice/jobsarticles.asp?category=JU

    I guess not, you're self employed if you want something, you're an employee if the government wants something

    Paris, who knows a thing or two baout being screwed

  19. johnB
    Stop

    Don't forget the timing

    Don't forget that IR35 also gets tax into the govt's coffers - via PAYE - faster than as a dividend from the service company. But that's only a tiny crumb of comfort for Gordo. The whole IR35 is now exposed as just another anti-business ploy.

    Yet another example of how the civil service will come up with any figure to support whatever bandwagon is currently being spun by useless ministers.

    Roll on the election. The sooner the better.

  20. Dan
    Flame

    £9.2m over 5 years?!

    So they collect enough annually to cover Michael Martin's pension?!

    Bunch of jokers.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    i know...

    lets give the government MORE of our money - so they can get more expenses... they must think we are all as dumb as that asshat that sits in no 10.

    paris - she would make a better pm than that scotish doofuss

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a waste, .....

    As a contractor, I just got a lawyer to modify my contract terms, so that I had a (theoretical) right of substitution and such. None of my clients seemed to object to these clauses & I also worked on the principle that the chances of HM finding me were minimal. Some of my colleagues were more cautious and 'voluntarily' became IR35.

    All in all a waste of time and (our) money...

  23. Pete Silver badge

    If you want to stimulate the british economy ...

    ... a simple way to do it would be to roll back the penalties involved in buying and using a company car.

    Contractors are (to all intents and purposes) not allowed to buy a car and then claim back the tax - either VAT, or taxes their companies incur from the purchase. This has basically killed off the whole area of small companies having company cars.

    If the govt. wanted to, and I mean _really_ wanted to, kick start the british car market, a simple way to do it would be to roll the clock back 20-odd years. Allow the cost of a CC to be set against contractors' company's costs, just like buying a computer, training course or packet of envelopes is seen as a legitimate expense.

    You never know, the added incentive might even prompt a few people to get off the dole and start up their own little entrepreneurial enterprise.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    other savings...

    I know of at least one person who used to do the same job as me (a fully-taxed employee) but as a contractor who also paid themselves a low enough wage from their one-man 'company' that they could claim housing benefit. I don't think they were the only one.

    Let's face it, we're a nation of chancers from the top of society to the bottom.

  25. Andrew Austin

    @ Hmmm (AC)

    I am a 'contractor'. I make PAYE & NI 'contributions', I pay Corporation tax and tax on any dividends I take from the business. Is there anything else that you would like me to 'contribute' to HM Gov?

    I'd wager that HMRC have written off more than the £9.2 million a year when dealing with large corporates who 'estimate' their tax bill.

  26. Isabello
    Thumb Up

    @Gordon Paterson

    or

    d) started working abroad (and stayed there - Posted from Rome ;^)

  27. ChrisB

    @AC 08:44

    I presume you're being ironic, but just in case:-

    I'll be happy to pay tax and NICs just like an employee the day I become entitled to ALL the same benefits as an employee. Since that will never happen, I'd rather have my company treated tax-wise as any other small business in the UK. Like a huge number of freelancers I choose to be a freelancer and have no desire to become an employee of any of my clients. It is a way of life I have chosen and I also accept all the risks and downsides and the upside of the potential rewards that go with that risk - just like any other business I hope to profit from my efforts but if I don't then I don't expect to be bailed out by state benefits.

    All that most freelancers want is a level playing field which treats all the participants in the same way. IR35 was supposed to protect the Friday-to-Monday workers (who are mostly at a lower level of skills) - it didn't and doesn't. What it does do is make it impossible for freelancers to ensure that their business model can operate to the same rules as the likes of EDS and Accenture, KPMG and indeed the local PC repair shop. That is unfair in the non-Blair/Brown sense of the word.

  28. John Lamb
    Flame

    Waaa, poor tax dodging contractors

    Right, because obviously you should pay less tax because you are a "company" with one client and your mum as the only other officer. Get over your sense of entitlement, money grabbing expense fiddling contractor scumbags. Perhaps we should abandon all attempts to tax the rich, because they are so good at avoiding them?

    I'm a contractor, but I don't feel the need to join a special Group for people who earn lots of money and think they should pay less tax. Isn't that what the Tories are for?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    House in Order

    MPs pay family members.

    Over many centuries, there have been family firms (hence &Sons as a suffix) and many firms pay dividends based on company results rather than fixed monthly salaries.

    Where the government need to legislate properly is large companies wanting to "employ" people via a contractor arrangement. In the short term, for projects that have a defined start and end date this seems fine. However, I know guys working for many firms (Lloyds and UBS seem to be the worst) where "contractors" have been there years doing a permie job... the companies make permies redundant and these guys remain - under the direct control of the firm. HMRC should go after obvious cases like these. Substitution clauses that are never invoked when a person has been with an employer for more than a year are not regarded by HMRC as an IR35 get-out - and justly so.

    The legislation and enforcement need changing to allow companies flexibility for discrete consulting engagement but to target pseudo employment more effectively.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    LOL

    Interesting to read the bitterness of full-time employees but you guys really need to do some research about this subject.

    OTOH if contractors really don't pay any tax, why are you so stupid as to still be in full-time employment?

  31. guy eastwood

    If I may...

    ... quote future prime minister Clarkson, it would seem that in addition to being both blind & Scots the Brown One is, actually, stupid.

    Now who can debate the Great Man's wisdom on this ;o)

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dawn Primarollo public flogging anyone?

    Now this lady called us all tax dodgers and thieves. If we are so bad as contractors, why can't her paid lackeys prove it in court?

    Yes: some people will just do what I did and do everything through payroll and take the thousands of pounds a year hit, I can't afford another 15 grand for an investigation that proved I was doing nothing wrong, which you can't claim back.

    Anyone for a public flogging, followed by lots of ridicule?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we need to see...

    ... if there was a increase or decrease in tax from permentent staff to see if this tax actually made a impact (the fact that it made 9.5 million is still 9.5 million extra for the country however, so i don't get why its a failed tax)

    Most likely they just started doing the taxs differently to avoid this tax, or signed on as full employees.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Silly premise

    Whatever gave you the idea that IR35 needs to collect more money than it costs to enforce? There are countless laws that don't "turn a profit." IR35 was introduced to close a loophole and uphold the government's idea of fairness. The fact that people work around it suggests to me that they'll tighten it rather than abandon it.

    BTW, how many is "just over a handful"?

  35. John Mangan
    Happy

    @John Lamb

    Never let ignorance get in the way of a good rant, eh?

    Oh, wait a minute; maybe those two things aren't completely unrelated . . . . .

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    contractors = tax dodgers

    contractors pay less tax than if they are working full-time and that smacks of a privileged few gaining at the expense of the majority.

    paying tax is not wrong. it is necessary to provide the services that enables everyone to enjoy a reasonable standard of living.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but isn't this like congestion charge?

    If it works, it raises no money because everyone avoids the zone.

    So presumably all the single-employer, long-term contractors are now properly employed as permies with pensions, holiday allowances, redundancy rights etc which generally works out cheaper if less flexible for the employer anyway.

  38. Gav
    Thumb Down

    IR35 is a success by this measure

    What kind of ridiculous logic is this? IR35 was introduced to plug a loophole in tax arrangements. Contractors were pulling a (legal) fast one, and had no right to expect that they'd be allowed to continue to avoid tax.

    The fact that it's not gathering much revenue now is not an indication of its failure, it's an indication that contractors have ceased to conduct their affairs in this manner and are, it is to be hoped, being taxed the same way as rest of us working schmucks.

    Therefore IR35 can only be regarded as a complete success by this measure.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Waaa, poor, no expense permies

    @John Lamb Posted Friday 22nd May 2009 09:52 GMT

    Let's level the playing field a bit then, and make permies/PAYE workers pay an accountant a couple of grand to produce an audited set of accounts and make a tax return every year. Would you like a job with a 12 week contract?

    Waaaaaa Waaaaaa

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is Gordon Brown Stupid?

    Gordon Brown has a degree from Edinburgh University, so he ought not to be stupid. But....wait for it folks...his degree was in History. So that'll be 7 hours a week of lectures then?

    I wouldn't really have thought that a degree in History would equip them with an analytical mind and problem solving ability. (Engineering will do that, but not History).

    But then I'm biased: I have an engineering degree!

    Who really thinks Brown can get his head around economic theory, of closed look feedback systems, of understanding the behaviour of dynamic systems, oscillation(instability), postive and negative feedback?

    Can someone with a History degree understand graphs, understand the maths behind the time varying parameters being plotted, of prediction algorithms...

    May be this is why he sold the country's gold reserves at rock bottom price!

    (You'd have at least thought he'd have looked at the previous 6 months gold price - a graph - and could see that it had a negative gradient....if he understands the concept of a gradient. Historians aren't known for their grasp of maths are they?!! )

  41. Ben Smith
    Flame

    To recap on what has been said

    re: AC and "Contractors, not that much different from MP's really. No surprise really .. FFS just pay your bloody NI contribution and tax like everyone else."

    Yeah, I'd love to pay the Govt. effectively double the NI contributions - employers and employees - just so I could claim no benefits from these payments.

    I've been out of contract since August. Net amount claimed off the Govt. during this time - zilch. Tax paid during 12 year's contracting and running several businesses - well north of £1m. Well north.

    I don't mind taking the risk of being unemployed and having to rely on myself. Ditto sickness / holiday / pension. But I'm damned if I'm paying shedloads of NI and not getting anything back in return. And no, I don't pay myself a stupidly low salary either.

    AC - I'd put a pound to a penny that you are a frustrated permie, probably managing contractors, and in envy of their "lifestyle". Well, from where I am right now, the market's shot and I won't work again this year, I imagine. That's the risk I've been prepared to take. If you are risk-averse, fair enough, but don't get green with envy. We *do* pay taxes, and lots of them. Try directing your ire at major plcs who pay <10% tax in total.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: AC LOL - The Pros and Cons of Contracting

    Permy's are right to bitch about their renumeration packages. I've done both: contracting and Permy. There are pros and cons to both.

    I did contracting for five years until the bottom fell out of the telecoms market a few years ago and I found myself out of work for a whole year, being a contractor, being self-employed I couldn't go any claim any benefits...the consequences were dire.

    Now, we're going through another recession, I'm a permy now, had I been a contractor I would have been well and truely shafted.

    People need to recognise there are pros and cons of both and there are times and personal circumstances where being one is better than the other.

    But generally, it's a sad fact that in the UK you can't get a decent wage in information technology unless you are a contractor.

  43. Christoph

    Eh? What's the problem?

    What do you mean it's not working, just because it's operating at a loss?

    It's not meant to make money, it's meant to suppress the small contractors so there's more work for the big consultancy companies that NuLab is so chummy with.

    'Fairness' means 'we and our mates are the ones that get to make the money out of it'.

  44. Ponmyword
    Stop

    Myths

    Re - Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 22nd May 2009 09:34 GMT

    "I know of at least one person who used to do the same job as me (a fully-taxed employee) but as a contractor who also paid themselves a low enough wage from their one-man 'company' that they could claim housing benefit. I don't think they were the only one."

    But that's bollox because the Gov housing benefit web-site says:

    "You may get Housing Benefit if you pay rent and your income ***and capital (savings and investments) *** are below a certain level."

  45. Ponmyword
    Thumb Up

    Re: Dawn Primarollo public flogging anyone?

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 22nd May 2009 10:39 GMT

    Yes!

    And she mislead the House of Commons on 06-Jan-2004 when she said that she could not give these figures because HMRC did not keep them.

    Is crucifixion really too severe?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Lost 200K.

    The company I work for was investigated under IR35, 2 years later, lots of expense, lots of unbilled time later, no penalty to pay.

    Firm has relocated to Australia. So IR has lost all corporation tax that might have been paid by staying and working in the UK.

    Looks like the 50% tax rate might have the same effect but on 'big' business rather than the small-trying-to-get-bigger.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    transient workforce

    Lots of you people telling us contractors that we dont pay as much tax... that sounds just plain wrong... i am a contractor and on average i pay 26% deductions.

    Since i get no benefits such as sick pay or holiday pay, nor paternerity leave, i think it is quite fair.

    I also pay for ALL my own training and my accountant. Sorry if you are not brave enough to go out there and try and make a bit more for yourself.

    Besides we provide a valuable service. How many technical projects are less than a year ... for web stuff, just about all of them, so it makes sense for your company to hire me for 3 to 6 months rather than have the cost and tax burden of getting a permie who then sits on their hands for the other 6 months of the year and cant be fired easily.

    Permie's are welcome to their life and often it is the security of a job they are after, well as we have seen recently, your job is probably less secure than mine!!!!

    Stop whining and join us.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC - Fairness

    You're trying to argue that contractors should pay more tax because it is fair.

    I'll ask: why is it fair that because someone earns more money than someone else that they should pay a higher percentage of their income as tax ? (I include NI+PAYE here).

    Isn't this what happens every day to us all? With the concept of differing tax bands. Why is it fair that a higher income earner should pay 40% tax and not 20% (or whatever it currently is)?

    Basically the tax system isn't about fairness. It's about raising money for the government.

    You're saying that because someone's been in a job for a long time they must be regarded as an employee, yet they don't get the benefits that employee does!

    You're not comparing like for like so your own analysis is flawed.

    One needs to look at the actual benefits of this IR35 legislation and the complications which it causes. One has to look at all sides of the coin. In terms of benefits, it raises a pitifully small amount of tax revenue for the government, costs a huge amount to administer, and the negative side is it places a high administrative burden on the contractors/small business owners. It does not help contractors/small businesses in anyway whatsoever. It's a hinderance.

    The only benefit is to HMRC and that's very small.

    Qualified accountants before the legislation came onto the Statute said that it would be a very bad piece of legislation, and they were right.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Silly Premise

    Given that the situation was (1) financially based and (2) open to anyone the only premise for bringing in something like IR35 would be to make money.

    That it actually costs money is wrong on so many levels and to so many people:

    -It costs contractors money, the money being recompense for the lack of things like security, sick pay, holidays, employee rights etc. and to cover the additional costs such as accountants, insurances, not being able to get a mortgage etc. etc.

    -It costs the taxpayer money. How fucking happy are you to know that not only do contractors get less money (that you might be pleased about in some petty schadenfreude / jealousy manner) but also there are fewer nurses / police / teachers / NHS treatments etc. due to the extra wasted money? Tell you what - I will pay you £1000 per annum, all you have to do is give me £10000 every year to cover the cost of recovering it, you sound stupid enough to think that is a good deal.

    -There will be an influx of well-qualified*, well-trained*, highly skilled*, flexible* IT staff into the permie market, competing with you for jobs in the future. Given your apparent lack of cognitive skills it doesn't bode well for your career.

    *And some really crap, lazy, useless ones also, I freely admit.

  50. Stuza
    Flame

    Well done .... NOT

    OK - so now its been made public that its a waste of time and money right? Well done. Now why does anyone with even half a brain cell think that the tax will just be scrapped? Hello!?

    It will be replaced with a far more effective tax that doesn't have the loop holes.

    Nice one... NOT. Some things should stay hidden.

  51. Dan
    Happy

    Blimey...

    The antipathy between permies and contractors is surprising. I used to be a contractor (and yes, I paid the tax hit), but by nature I can be a bit of a worrier about money, IR35, the next contract etc, as well as not being keen on working away from home any more (so reducing my versatility as a contractor), so it's better for me to be employed and get paid for holidays, sickness etc, particularly in the current economic climate. But jeez, guys, get over yourselves. You took your choice knowing the ins and outs of it, and even if you didn't you could always switch now if you're that jealous.

  52. Andy Gray
    Alert

    Yes to Primarolo public flogging!

    I find it particularly galling in the current political climate that we contractors were painted as amoral, tax evaders by Dawn Primadonna in her speeches in parliament about IR35, whilst waving about Tim Warr's article encouraging us to "Make hay whilst the sun shines." This was for simply and strictly abiding by tax regulation as it stood at the time.

    She also claimed that IR35 would generate three-quarters of a billion pounds a year in additional tax contributions. I'm sure that the small number of successful IR35 investigations and the paltry £9.5Million raised in 02/03 doesn't tell the whole story - I chose to go permie and at least get some benefits for the extra tax I would pay - but I doubt the £.75Billion was anything but made up nonsense. Shouldn't there be some political price to pay for getting it so wrong?

    There doesn't even seem to be much of a political price to pay for being an actual amoral fraud, genuinely abusing the tax-payer, if you're an MP. Unless you're the nominated scapegoat that is.

  53. Bod

    Re: @ Hmmm (AC)

    More than that, VAT is also due on my company's earnings. Employees don't have to deal with that.

    I make it more around 10% gain contracting rather than 25%, once accounting for all the taxes, holiday, sick, pension, expenses, administrative time, etc. Though depends on the individual circumstances.

    For me the problem with IR35 is not about the tax but the restriction of freedom. What IR35 says effectively is you cannot work in a freelance manner. You are therefore required to be shackled to an employer, bow to employers demands, be bound by corporate bullshit, and treated like shit, but at the same time not get paid holidays, pension, sick, etc.

    Yes we get an advantage financially, but that is reward for the extra risk we take (easy to hire, easy to fire - as it clearly being demonstrated in the current climate), the administrative costs of operating this way. Remember we don't get redundancy and in the current climate we can be on the bench for months. Normal freelance operation is to build up a fund for such periods. IR35 says we can't do that and must go bust if we can't get contracts.

    And to all those who are think we are just abusing the system (i.e. Jealous), do remember that anyone can go contracting. Give it a try! ;-)

    Oh, and really on the tax side, IR35's "employee status" crap is just a smokescreen for "we don't want YOU to pay only 10% tax on dividends, but it's okay for US and other prominent high earners to pay 10% tax on dividends used as majority income".

    I'd be a little happier with paying 20% tax on the dividends which makes it like regular income tax and be rid of the IR35 burden. The gov would not as they'd impact a huge amount of high earners and many MPs likely. They're not about to do that after having being whacked on expenses*

    * - p.s. most contractors are far less frivolous with expenses as we know only to well the taxman will come down on us like a tonne of bricks if we claimed just 1p on something that's frowned upon.

  54. John Lamb
    Flame

    Reading Comprehension

    @Ponder Stebbins I am a contractor you nugget. Only I'm a Sole Trader because I'm honest and don't mind paying taxes, so no need for certified accounts. I do my own tax return, just like I would if I was a permie on higher rate tax.

    I've never had a contract last 12 weeks, for some reason companies like to keep me on when my contract comes up. I wonder why they don't renew yours?

  55. Duncan Hothersall
    Dead Vulture

    Pathetically biased article

    As others have pointed out, the point of IR35 was to ensure those who should be employed on a standard contract got employed on a standard contract. The measures used here to assess the success of IR35 completely ignore that outcome!

    There is no proof of any failure of IR35 here; just a failure of Gerry Mclaughlin to see past the chip on his shoulder.

  56. Dave
    Pirate

    @Andrew Austin and others

    What I would like, is for you to pay tax at a rate that is proportionate to your actual income in the same way as permanent employees.

    How anyone could ever claim with a straight face that a man and his wife constituted a company is beyond me - the clue is in the name there.

    This analysis is clearly too biased to be entirely trustworthy, but even if taken at face value, all it proves it that the Governments attempts to close an _actual_ loophole didn't work as intended, which wouldn't exactly be the first time, not even for this year.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Here we go again...

    .... what started as a how (another) Gov Tax system has failed turns into the usual wailing from ignorant permies "oh you dont pay enough tax blah blah blah" . FFS at least go and learn a little bit about IR35 before you start your moaning. Have you not heard about Employers NI? No, silly me, of course you wouldn't.. YOU don't pay it and neither does the likes of the big boys (EDS etc) on their dividends, or your local shop or any other business. So is it fair contractors pay double NI?

    Oh and then there's the ridiculous situation about "virtual" contracts, ie the contractor has to choose their tax status based on multiple contracts, one of which is never shown (or available) to the contractor.. what sort of fucked up contract law is that! Yeah, I can just see you permies agreeing to T&Cs for your job without seeing or knowing what was in the contract!

    And as for various comments that the £9.6m only being from those investigated and found to be within IR35 and that there is more tax from those who have decided to change to IR35 status. I somehow doubt it, just do some simple maths, that would be a lot of tax from the small number who had to stump up. The PCG says its 6 (AC@11:13 maybe read the article next time!) and from my experience the total can't be more than that, even if it was 20, no lets say 50, that would be nearly £200k each....not really.

    And Gav,( there never was a loophole in the Tax arrangements!) I think you might need to check you logic.. do you really think that contractors going permie brings in more tax that they did pre IR35. Yes it might if they stay contracting in IR35, but that's in the £9.6m.. and knowing how long and how much an investigation costs they must be down many times this amount!

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @John Lamb

    Bloody Trotskyist!

    Go lobby yourself off the nearest cliff... MOST contractors are paid more because it's riskier to be a contractor, and you have to work a harder to continue being one (who would employ a notoriously bad contractor??).

    Pfft... Learn you where abouts young man (if you are INDEED a contractor). You are rubbing shoulders with hardworking folk; act like it, and stop being jealous.

  59. Mark
    Stop

    Stop whining

    Not the contractors, all the others. Instead of whining about how little tax they pay and how much money they get why don't you just STFU and do it yourself if you're good enough? It's open to everyone provided you can get yourself a contract. However you may need to give up the security of the corporate teat from which you regularly suckle.

    I used to regularly see this kind of abuse directed towards contractors where I worked and it was mostly from people who should have considered themselves bloody lucky to be employed.

    The only time I've ever found it justified is when someone has very little ability and is sat around earning a good rate. Then again, best of luck if they can get away with it. Who wouldn't want to be overpaid?

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    There's always a few muppets...

    > No surprise really .. FFS just pay your bloody NI contribution and tax like everyone else

    Ok, when you hand over your holiday pay, sickness pay, redundancy, pay for leaving early to look after the kids, share options, private healthcare, lunches and all the other perks a permanent employee gets that contractors don't. We won't mention the weeks or months of between contracts with no income. Oh, and please do all your employers paperwork for your employment while you're there.

    For what it's worth, I'm an employee, not a contractor.

  61. Graham Bartlett
    Flame

    IR35 and how not to encourage people to work for themselves

    My main problem with IR35 is that it's taxing people just because their contributions don't involve bricks and mortar. If you're a brickie with a ltd company, suppose you go out and build a wall for Barratt Homes. It's still using *your* skills as a trained and experienced workman, but because the result of your work is a physical thing, somehow IR35 doesn't apply to your skills. Or suppose you're running a shop on your own - again, IR35 isn't interested in you. But if you're a software engineer, suddenly you're a cheating scumbag because you're using your hard-earned skills the same way.

    Now suppose I'm hiring out my skills successfully enough that I need to get a mate in to help. Suddenly I'm no longer caught by IR35, because we're both hiring out our skills instead of just one of us. Why's that?

    And as Jeremy says, although contractors get more when they're working, there's a flipside that you're more likely to be out of work. How many permies spent 4 months from the start of the credit crunch without a job? Because I did, and as a contractor I wasn't bitching about it because I knew it could happen and I'd made preparations. I claimed nothing from DSS because I didn't see it was necessary.

    As nice as it would be, the phenomenon of the "permanent contractor" is sadly a rare beast these days. What actually happens is that companies keep a small pool of contractors on regularly-renewed contracts during the good times, and this *looks* like the old "permanent contractor" thing. But in fact they're the cannon fodder for when work dries up, because unlike permies who need to go through the whole redundancy thing, if you lose a project and find you're overstaffed, you can just tell the contractors "don't come in on Monday" and that's it. Like I said, you make what you can in the good times because you know there *will* be bad times.

    Oh, and hands up any permies who need to spend a grand a year on an accountant, £600 on company insurance (professional indemnity and company possessions like laptops), and need to spend a day a month of their free time doing invoices and stuff? Didn't think so.

  62. Pat
    Pirate

    @H2Nick

    Re: removal of the 10% tax rate

    Yep, epic fail and indicates he can't even use a spreadsheet (hmm...might explain a lot).

    No point arguing IR35 with those who haven't had to seriously consider its business consequences.

    I spy some lubbers talking through their reAARRs matey:

    Skulking below decks - Permies who feel an entitlement to the same rewards as a contractor, but unwilling to actually make the jump and take on the risks and extra work.

    In the barrel - Nu Liebor fan bois, talking bollocks & stirring it up.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dave

    Under IR35 contractors still have to pay employers NI (as well as employees NI, Tax etc.) - so which is it to be? Is a man and wife company only a real company when it comes to paying the taxman but not when it comes to claiming company benefits?

    You want us to pay according to our income? Fine, but then give us the associated benefits like sick pay* etc.

    We have traded certain benefits for other benefits, namely job security/protections for flexibility and wonga.

    Some things that have already been mentioned, but to bring them together:

    As a contractor you are an employee of the company you work through (your limited company / agency / payments company) not the company you work at. Therefore the client company has no responsibilities or liabilities other than those in your contract and very limited statute. This means no sick pay, no unfair dismissal, no redundancy, no TUPE, no HR, no training or anything like that.

    You get paid for what you work, so if you don't work you don't get paid. Accordingly some of the daily / hourly rate needs to be used for sickness, holidays, training, between contracts etc.

    You will find it very difficult to get jobseekers between contracts. You can (I did once to prove a point - basically I told them if I was to be taxed as disguised employed then they can give me benefits as disguised unemployed) but it is a ball ache and will bite you later on.

    If you pay a low salary and make the rest with dividends and expenses (the main way to maximise income) then you will find this counts against you when looking at loans, mortgages, pensions and any other income related stuff. Also the taxman is very harsh on expenses so there is a limited scope for profit there.

    You need to pay an accountant. Yet still spend quite a long time sorting your finances / accounts every month.

    *Actually don't, the fact that we are flexible and not covered by restrictive and costly employment legislation is fairly key to what we do.

  64. John
    Thumb Down

    BUT how many people have gone perm?

    Im sure there are a lot of contratcors that have now gone perm as a result of IR35... and also the Contracting business is now very different to 2000.....

    so sorry reg this is a bit of a non story...

  65. Mike Allum

    Oh the ironies!

    1) The biter bit

    The contractors were abiding by the laws - some stuck to the spirit and some stuck to the letter. How apt that the Government is now embroiled in a furore deriving from the spirit/letter question about their expenses.

    2) Set a thief to catch a thief

    To hunt down contractors who were not paying enough tax (in their opinion anyway) the Government unleashed bloodhound Dawn Primarolo - a noted Poll-tax evader.

    3) The best defence is a good offence (Under section 21 of the taxation act)

    The Government tried to spin the situation and make contractors into filthy freebooters by substituting "tax evasion" for "tax avoidance" (One is a crime, the other a sport for the rich.) but the spin was deftly turned 'round and ended up making them look ignorant.

    4) Robbing Peter to pay Paul

    This shortfall on the predicted profit (Sorry - revenue...) is priceless.

    I gave up contracting because I was one of the "spirit" contractors.

    I was damned if I was going to work 60 hour weeks, pay extra tax and NI, and not be able to save money for a corporate rainy day when some fat cat could pay minimal tax and NI on the huge wedge that he got for merely lending his name as director of a company.

    I was double-damned if I was going to exercise my newly-granted right to sue my "employer" for the holiday and sick pay that I was never offered. I'd've never worked in the industry again.

    I was triple-damned if I was going to write back to the Tax Office more than twice to point out that their non-legally-binding "opinion" (Which they referred to as a "judgement" to me at least once.) was factually incorrect in light of a court case that had terminated 6 months previously. I paid my taxes to be given facts, not fairy tales.

    The whole thing was one of those attempts to screw money out of people by putting them into a position where it seemed that they would expend time, money, and effort fruitlessly. I am gleeful in the extreme to see that it has misfired so spectacularly and I offer my grateful thanks to Shout 99 and the PCG for their efforts over the years.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ This sums up the UK

    "I live in a country which has a very progressive approach to taxation (Switzerland) - so progressive in fact that OECD has us on the grey list."

    vs.

    "I will be relocating some time in the next 12-18 months and I've ruled out the UK because it's overcrowded, overtaxed, overpriced, broken and, frankly, a poo hole."

    Wonderful, thanks for insulting the people who live there (but I agree - lived there for 15 years too and the people may be OK but the gov is beyond crap), but, pray, my dear boy, if Switzerland is so good why are you planning to relocate?

    Just curious - seems to have a hole in the logic..

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    @Evidence please

    You guys have gold? Us yanks wish we knew what happened to ours.

  68. Paul Ireland

    IR35 affects more than just contractors

    IR35's problem all along is that it affects more than just contractors. It affects any small business wanting to start up in the IT software or services sector.

    With any small company startup, you try to minimise what you take out of the company, because the company needs that money for marketing, development, PR, advertising, running and expansion costs, etc. But along comes IR35 and it says NO, most of the money coming into your company has to go straight out again as personal income and tax (unless you come up with come convoluted client supplier agreement whose terms might end up putting your client off and losing you your client).

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    just how stupid can people be - that's rhetorical, not a challenge ..

    contractors = tax dodgers is the same equation as MP = honourable member or politician = genuinely working for the benefit of others and not for personal gain. None of those equates.

    By the way, quick question for anyone who can help - why did I get to lose pay yesterday cos I couldnt do some of hours because permanent - so, secured, pensioned, etc - workers on the Victoria Line felt like having a day off? Who exactly is going to reimburse me for the lost income? Did all the permies working at, say, the Cabinet Office lose some of their pay? Any accountants out there who can explain how my lost income can then be offset against Mr Brown's debts?

    The average contractor has to go through far more processes and procedures to work in the public sector than the average "civil" "servant", and certainly more than the average minister - and, to coin a phrase, some of our ministers are very average - and most of us do not choose to leave others' personal details or various securityy-related information on trains - let's face it, if you are entrusted with that sort of information, the excuse of "oops, I f*cked up" is not appropriate. One needs to be held to a higher standard. Working in the private sector is the only option, but with a government that claims to care about jobs, job creation and so on then enforcing rules against contractors but knowingly allowing, and even encouraging, questionable behaviour by it's own members is just too much. If they believe they are working in the best interests of the "ordinary people", then trust us - call an election right now, today, If they don't, what are they hiding? After all, in terms of "terror" legistlation we are routinely told if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear - same applies to the (verY) average MP, surely?

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    higher rates

    Contractors I knew were paid at a much higher rate by the company employing them, relative to permenant employees. That was the compensation for no holidays, sick pay etc, it wasn't the job of the taxman to give them an additional benefit to cover this.

    The contractors I knew (around 5 years back, before IR35) used to openly brag about only paying 10%, so it can't have been that bad for them when balanced against the other responsibilities. None of them seemed particularly badly off or whinged about the bureaucracy and lack of protection. The fact I don't hear such bravado now indicates something fairer is now in place.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Contractors should pay their tax

    I'm sure we're all enjoying ripping into the MPs about ripping off the tax payer about their expenses - I wonder how many people giving it large are doing just the same by avoiding IR35? Tossers.

  72. John Lamb
    Flame

    @AC

    If you are already paid more, then surely you have enough money to pay your taxes? It's simple - take your rate, allow for sick pay and down-time, pension contribs, and the taxes you have to pay - if you aren't getting enough money then boo hoo, go back to being a permie, or find a better paying contract. No need to start stealing, which is what tax dodging is.

    Why would I be jealous of anyone who has deluded themselves into thinking they have some mysterious right to avoid their tax obligations? Sense of entitlement much?

    And what do you mean if I am INDEED a contractor? This kind of 'every one else is doing' it cock is exactly how we ended up with the MPs expenses fiasco. Woo, topical!

  73. Anthony
    Dead Vulture

    Re: Pathetically Biased Article

    This news is doing the rounds, but this particular version is a straight out lie. The £9.2 million is tax from HMRC "compliance" only and doesn't include all the people who have agreed they are covered by IR35.

    There is plenty of scope for critisising IR35 when it catches out true freelancers, the cost of this compliance and the fact that the govermenent is probably not making anywhere near what they said they would from it. Of course that would take effort to research and not just involve regurgitating a press releases. But I guess we shouldn't really expect too much from The Daily Mail web site ... err, I mean The Register ...

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Whining permies

    I get really f**ked off at whining permies complaining how much contractors earn. They look after their own tax liability, they don't receive holidays, employer pension contibutions or sick leave, they don't have comfy consultation periods or redundancy payments and they accept more risk. All of that adds up to more pay in the hand.

    If you all stopped whingeing and pulled your finger out of your arse you might fingure out that you too could become a contractor if you had the balls to put your skills on the line.

    Unfortunately, for the majority of permies the truth is that they're far too engaged in office politics to actually achieve anything, hence the need for contractors to do the jobs that they are totally incapable of doing.

    As for me, I'm a permie who has nothing against filthy contracting scum (joke)

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Silly Premise @Lee

    I'm a contractor myself, you clueless clown. If your post represents the level of argument you offer in favour of contractors, I think we'd all rather you keep your mouth shut.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @AC: Whining Permies

    "If you all stopped whingeing and pulled your finger out of your arse you might fingure out that you too could become a contractor if you had the balls to put your skills on the line."

    You don't think some permies just want to be honest non-selfish citizens?

    You're position assumes everybody should be selfish and try to screw everybody else. Personally I'd rather sleep at night knowing I'm paying something toward helping less fortunate people in society than just lording it over people as to how "clever" I am to have dodged taxes.

  77. Adrian Waterworth
    Stop

    @John Lamb

    The problem with IR35 as originally framed was that it didn't ALLOW you to cover any sick pay, down time, travel and accommodation expenses, or even employer's NI, etc. If you charged your client 1000 quid, then that was deemed to be your personal income. After the initial screams of horror from just about everyone, a 5% "allowance" was quickly introduced to cover accountant's expenses, etc. So, if you charged £1000, you would be liable for tax and employee's NI contribs on £950 and then you had to pay your employer's NI and any other expenses out of what you had left. The practical upshot of all this was that you could, at best, count on keeping about 40-odd percent of your invoice (after tax and the two NI contribs), from which you then paid any additional working expenses that you had to cover (usually travel and accommodation at the very least - unless you were lucky enough to find a contract near home). In my case, I worked out that I would probably be able to keep about 25% of my deemed income after normal expenses. Out of that, I would then need to put aside money for sick pay, holiday pay, time between contracts, etc. Meanwhile, Mr Fat-Cat director of KPMG or whoever - who, legally speaking, was in exactly the same situation as me, but was also, of course, one of the industry cronies of our wonderful government - would be taking home several hundred thousand quid of divvies and assorted other goodies every year on which he or she was paying more or less bugger all in tax or NI.

    So...in spite of being one of the people who contributed money to the original formation of the PCG (back in the engineerjob.com days), I decided that I didn't want to play the government's silly political games any more and I did indeed go back to a permie job for a while. And I found that, not only was I personally financially better off by getting to keep far more of my (admittedly reduced) gross salary, but I was effectively paying less to the taxman than I did before (by the time all the NI contribs, corporation tax, etc. was taken into account). So, a win for me and a big raspberry to our insightful political leaders.

    Actually, this does also illustrate that those people making comments about "How many people went back to permie jobs and are paying more tax?" could still be shooting wide of the mark. I did go back to a permie job, ended up better off in some ways and STILL paid less tax. So, whichever way you slice it, IR35 still looks like a lemon.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ben smith

    so if you have paid out "well north" of £1m in tax over the last 12 years, surely with the aid of a half decent accountant and financial advisor you should have slatedmore than enough away to tide you over the odd 12 months here and there?

    orm are the poniems the yacht the home in south of france and putting the kids through private school bleeding you dry?

  79. Ponmyword
    Thumb Up

    @AC: Whining Permies

    @AC: Whining Permies

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 22nd May 2009 15:35 GMT

    "You don't think some permies just want to be honest non-selfish citizens?

    You're position assumes everybody should be selfish and try to screw everybody else."

    He said nothing of the sort. Contractors can charge higher fees because of supply and demand, it's a simple as that.

    If contracting is so great, everyone would do it, but it does not suit everyone for a number of reasons. Having the balls to face being without fee-earning work for months on end, especially now, is one reason why most prefer permanent employment.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Permanent Contractors just jealous

    of what, no one is quite sure. It is not like they will pay you the money if they don't get the contractor in, they will just keep it themselves.

    Yes IR35 probably cost the economy and the state of IT more than it would ever bring in, it really means you can only work on a project for one year before having to leave, so guess what happens.

    And it made continued relationship too hard and not to be valued, which again causes lots of problems.

    Taxes don't help less fortunate, nice idea there, no they pay for public servants, surveillance systems, jails, weapons, chandeliers, moats, second houses for MPs nothing as virtuous as helping out your fellow human, no no no, that would be ridiculous expecting that from this lot.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Bollocks

    My major issue with IR35 is expenses, I travel from my home to where the work is, if it's hundreds of miles away then I need hotels (on a short contract) or a flat or similar on a longer term contract.

    If the Taxman deems me to be caught by IR35 then I can't afford to work away from my home location, simple fact, contracting is no longer a gravy train, take a look at the average rates nowadays, deduct even basic accommodation from that day rate and things don't look so good. If you have to pay tax and NI on that rate (approx 50%) does the job look so good, It might mean your company is simply bust!

    I also wonder why, if someone is caught by IR35, the company that is deemed to be the employer is not chased for employers NI contributions?

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't have any problem with IR35 per-se.

    I've seen a few contractors take the piss, one even put 40 inches of Plasma Screen and a PS3 down as a "Company Expense". And I've seen contractors sit in the same seat, at the same client, for three years, these are not people who pay tax, nor are they people who take risks.

    What I do have a problem with is Inland revenue endlessly tinkering with IR-35 in order to try to catch the last "evil thieving contractor" that the Judge didn't send down the salt mines.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Speaking As A Contractor

    I've been a contractor for several years. Brought about because a couple of permanent employers figured that they wanted to play poker with their employer hand in terms of risking it to try and make a profit out of what turned out to be a rather ludicrous hand, so I lost the bet. Recruitment guy said "I have a contract, it's paying X pounds", so rather than sit and do battle with the low-life that are employed in the job centre I figured I would give it a go.

    It's worked out okay for me, though I generally have to put up with about 3 months personal holiday a year between short-ish contracts (it's the nature of the work, not my contribution, honest guv...), but I still pay myself a market rate salary from my Ltd. For the job I do you could see similar jobs advertised on JobServe etc every day of the week. I don't have to do so, I could easily get away with the £6K a year salary that so many contractors pay themselves. So why do I do so? Basically, unlike certain MP's that could be named and shamed, I feel that if I'm going to be doing a job of work then that job should be paid at the rate of what can reasonably be achieved on the job market for a permie doing a similar job. If that means that at the end of the year there's a little bit of profit on the Ltd balance sheet then that's the profit sharing that many permies would take home. Job's a good 'un.

    Plus, if one of mine gets injured in a road traffic accident then I'd like to think that there will be an ambulance and heath service to take care of them, so my "extra" contribution helps pay for that. It's a silly idea I know, but at least I can sleep comfortably at night feeling I'm doing my bit not to defraud the UK economy.

    So before the permie whingers that have contributed to this thread get too carried away that all contractors are to be tarred with the same brush, please think again. There are a few of us contractors who try to operate on reasonable terms with the rest of society. Do I fail the IR35 test of 95% of company income becoming salary? Absolutely I do! But I'm not taking the mickey out of the system like many do, and in my view who give contractors a bad name.

    And Paris because.... well just because I would. If she played her cards right she could have me.....

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Limited Liability anyone?

    Can I Just remind everybody winging about contractors is that as a freelancer, not only do you get next to no help from the government if you get into trouble, you also have no protection from your debtors. They can take your house, your car, all your savings.

    I, and I have no doubt there are others like me, started a limited company to protect myself, long before IR35 reared it's ugly head.

    However, there were staff who resigned on a Friday and walked back into their old business as a contractor, earning substantially more because the company no longer had to pay Employers NI, nor sick pay, maternity/paternity leave, or redundancy. These so-called contractors had no overheads of any sort, and should have been taxed just like casual workers.

    These are the people who spoiled it for the rest of us, and who caused IR35 to be put in place in the first place. If you fall under IR35, you deserve it.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Permies Vs Contractors

    I've been a permie and a contractor. Permies often rib contractors at work about how much money they earn. The correct contractor response should be to the permie "Ok, you can earn my rate of pay too, go out and do it." I am currently a permie.

    The antipathy that exists from the permie to the contractor is nearly always out of jealousy.

    Having done contracting I can honestly say that it made me a better person, a better permie and I learnt how to run a limited company, I developed business knowledge which I didn't ever acquire whilst I was a permie.

    There are good reasons for contractor earning much higher rates of pay, and I say thank God for it too! At least we have a choice. It's that choice that enables us to earn a decent rate of pay for what we do.

    If the permies here posting messages had their way there wouldn't be any contractors at all!

    Being a contractor is one of the few ways we IT professionals can earn a decent rate of pay ( compare our salaries to lawyers, even doctors).

    Contracting is a very important part of the business world, it provides a fundamentally important service. It enables employers to take on staff when they need them to deal with the peaks in the resource demands for the project.

    It's a pity Brown/Blair/Primarollo don't understand business.

  86. Martin Nicholls
    Pirate

    @John Lamb

    "I'm a contractor, but I don't feel the need to join a special Group for people who earn lots of money and think they should pay less tax. Isn't that what the Tories are for?"

    You're just jealous because you pay more tax than them and don't have a moat.

    Seriously though, am I the only person in the country who thinks it's obscure that the Tories are making hay out of the current crop of political faux pas, by not telling anybody they'll cut services and will levy even less tax on the mega-rich (i.e. themselves).

    I hate GB as much as the next guy, but lets not pretend Cameron is going to be anything but even worse.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Cameron, Tories, etc

    Well then Mr Nicholls, you don't seem to be a big fan of the Tories. Perfectly understandable, especially if your background was in the areas that Maggie devastated during the 80's. I don't intend to defend what happened, it was tragic for everyone affected.

    However, the UK just couldn't go on the way it did towards the end of the 70's. The Scargills of this world were making life very unpleasant for everyone, and regrettably they had to be sorted out. And it seems to me that Maggie was the only one with the balls to get that job done. Take a look at the present day where Brown is totally afraid to discipline Blears and others despite what they've done with expenses! They should have been marched out into Parliament Square and shot.

    Remember that woman who ran Westminster council and got done for gerrymandering the vote? The Labour party are gerrymandering the whole electorate with their policies supporting the down-and-outs who don't want to work. Plus that guy Maxwell got criticised for ransacking the pension fund of his newspaper, and yet Brown has taken it to a whole new level for the entire UK pensions industry. Pity Brown isn't going to be found floating in the sea having accidentally fallen off the back of a boat.

    Paris because a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    "We know that Gordon Brown is not stupid"

    Nope, he's not. He's bright as a wood stump.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    - but he's not stupid

    So he's going to cling on as long as he possibly can, because he'll be unemployed - and hopefully unemployable - as soon as the next election is forced upon him.

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