The Inland Revenue has invited contractors' representatives to discuss its plans for reforms of their tax regime, answering their demands for proper consultation on the issue.
The meeting, for which no agenda has been issued, is planned for today. It will discuss the IR35 proposal, which contractors say will lop a quarter off their income.
The Revenue invited representatives of freelancer organisations, the Professional Contractors Group (PCG) and the British Computer Society's (BCS) contractor division, as well as accountants specialising in the area, late last Friday.
PCG spokeswoman Susie Hughes said her group was pleased to take part in discussions, the first involving contractors' representatives since June. However, "we hope this is genuine consultation, not just paying lip service," she added.
The invitations follow confidential meetings at the start of this month between paymaster general Dawn Primarolo and tax experts, angering contractors' groups that were not invited.
Mike Cullen, chairman of the BCS's contractors group, described such meetings as "a bit unsettling", "but we'll see what happens on Wednesday," he added.
The confidential meetings discussed a revised implementation of the IR35 proposals, which abandoned the 'control test', under which contractors reporting to a line manager would be charged similar taxes to full time staff.
However, a spokesman for the Institute of Chartered Accountants, which attended the meeting, said it was "a bit disappointed" at the redraft. The government last month said it hoped to release the long awaited revisions, still officially undisclosed, during September.
An assessment of the current implementation of IR35's impact on the economy, commissioned by the PCG, will soon be delivered by Professor John Burton, an economist at Westminster University.
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