25 September 2014, Comments 5
As the 2015 general election approaches, the campaign for government recognition of the UK’s expanding freelancing and contracting community continues to gather momentum. The most recent volley of argument comes from the IPSE director of policy and external affairs, Simon McVicker. While congratulating the Labour party on its “great strides” towards recognising the contribution of freelancers to the UK economy in its recent The Freelancing Agenda report, Mr McVicker took issue with comments made by shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh in connection with the Dutch taxi firm Uber. Ms Creagh criticised Uber for not doing enough to ensure its drivers were paying the correct amount of taxes and NICs. Mr McVicker said: “This is an odd statement to make, primarily because Uber is under no obligation to demonstrate or ensure that their drivers are paying their taxes fully, since its drivers are classified as self-employed.” Arguing that the arrangement was neither complex nor new, he added: “For example, if a freelance marketing professional was commissioned by a firm to deliver a project in return for a fee, then where the responsibility for paying tax lies is clear ‒ firmly with the freelancer.” The agency through which an essentially independent professional engages with an end-client, Mr McVicker argues, cannot be assumed to be responsible for that professional's tax affairs any more than online jobs and contracts platforms such as PeoplePerHour.com can be held responsible. Mr McVicker called for a new taxation system to be introduced that properly reflected the emerging flexible workforce in an increasingly knowledge-based economy. In the meantime, of course, independent professionals can pursue lucrative contracting careers on a fully Revenue-compliant basis by becoming Umbrella Companies employees.