One of Chancellor Gordon Brown's concessions to business in his pre-Budget statement will make life worse for contractors hit by Labour's IR35 contractors' tax measure - if only by 0.2 per cent. The Chancellor said employers' national insurance (NI), for which contractors will be liable from next April when IR35 goes ahead, will fall from 12.2 per cent of salary to 11.9 per cent, rather than to 11.7 per cent as previously expected. The planned 0.5 per cent cut in employers' NI, designed to compensate for environmental taxes based on a company's contribution to global warming, was reduced to 0.3 per cent with the green tax's scaling-back. The Opposition reply to Brown's statement, from Shadow Chancellor Francis Maude, referred to IR35 as an example of a stealth tax. The Tories have pledged to reverse the measure if they win the next election. Iain Sutherland, director of operations at tax group 3 sixty, said: "We trust the Inland Revenue will make an adjustment for this, and will listen to those who are demonstrating continued problems." Sutherland added that 3 sixty is among those advising the Revenue on providing guidelines for how self-employment will be applied to knowledge workers. These are expected to appear in the New Year. IR35 is on the point of becoming law following the collapse of the Lords' rearguard fight over aspects of its parent legislation, the Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill. Royal assent for the measure is expected imminently. The next move in the saga is consultations between Customs and Excise and representatives of practitioners and the service companies over draft guidance on how the new regime will work, and this is understood to include the definition of self-employment. Some service companies will qualify as 'self-employed' and will only be liable to pay national insurance on that basis. They will escape the fate of firms having to pay both employees' and employers' national insurance because their proprietors are deemed 'employees'. Further ahead is the conclusion of consultations with the Inland Revenue over the tax treatment of these businesses, involving how much of their fees will be regarded as income and how much owner-directors can set aside and take as dividends. That will be dealt with through possible clauses in the next Finance Bill next spring. - For full details of how IR35 will affect contractors see the vnunet.com Web site where detailed analysis is available. WEB LINKS HM Treasury www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/ Professional Contractors' Group www.ir35consultation.co.uk VNUnet.com www.vnunet.com.
Some parts of Atacama have not received rainfall for 500 years - but a sudden deluge of water upset the Desert's delicate biological balance
Spitzer Space Telescope could not spot Oumuamua, suggesting that it is actually pretty small
Greenland crater one of the 25 largest impact craters on Earth
This long-sought progenitor star was identified in an image captured by Hubble in 2007