Three different Tax Treatments
If you work as a contractor, there are three different possible tax treatments which could apply to your engagements depending on your circumstances. For contracts not subject to the off-payroll working (IR35) rules, whether working in the private or public sector, you will be in a position to withdraw profits on a very advantageous tax basis.
However, if working in the private sector and a contract is caught under the off-payroll working rules, much of this tax advantage is lost. Any work in the public sector covered by these rules means that the public sector body or agency will effectively treat you as an employee, despite the use of your intermediary company.
The Covid-19 crisis has no doubt left many contractors without work, but there may be some help under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. You can use the scheme provided you have been receiving salary subject to PAYE and you officially furlough yourself. From 1 July, you are allowed to work on a part-time basis, while still being able to claim under the scheme for hours not worked. Until August, the scheme will reimburse 80% of your salary, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. For September and October, the reimbursement is respectively cut to 70% and 60%, with the scheme coming to an end on 31 October.
The crisis has also seen the government postpone the extension of the public sector tax treatment to the private sector. The change was meant to have come in from 6 April 2020, but will now not happen until 6 April 2021.