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One minute with... Lee Hamilton

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

I am currently assisting a company to implement a new global mobility tax policy, advising an employer on the tax implications of a new share arrangement and supporting a senior director with the tax and social security implications of a new role across three EU countries.

I am also currently leading a project to make tax compliance easier for employers when it comes to short-term business visitors. This includes using technology to help identify potential taxes, and make social security (and immigration) issues more straightforward and practical.

If you could make one change to a tax law or practice, what would it be?

I would make tax compliance more straightforward for small and medium sized businesses when it comes to hosting short-term business visitors to the UK.

Under the current regime, the UK duties of non-UK resident business visitors may be exempt from UK tax and PAYE. However, in order to be compliant, employers need to understand the appropriate parts of the relevant double tax treaty and concepts such as ‘incidental duties’ and ‘economic employer’. The employer also needs a short-term business visitors’ agreement from HMRC, and to commit to potentially onerous tracking and reporting of the relevant people and information. The current regime may be fit for purpose for larger employers or those with large short-term business visitor populations. However, it is impractical for those employers which may be setting up in the UK for the first time or only have limited HR and payroll resources.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

I would stress the importance of identifying and securing the support of good coaches and mentors. Later in my working life, I benefited hugely from the guidance of a few people in particular, who invested their time in me and who have made a positive difference to my career in tax.

Are there any new or draft rules that are causing a particular problem?

The government’s proposals on (potentially) implementing changes to IR35 in the private sector are causing some concern, particularly in those businesses that are dependent on engaging workers via their own personal services company. One of the key options is making the engager (i.e. the company who engages the worker) responsible for determining whether the individual should be deemed an employee or as self-employed for tax purposes. This is, to some extent, understandable from a compliance perspective, but it will place significant additional burdens on employers, especially as employment status for tax purposes is based on case law and is a notoriously ‘grey’ area. That said, the government is also considering introducing some form of statutory test for employment status, which may provide a small degree of comfort.

Can you comment on a recent tax case?

The case of Christa Ackroyd Media v HMRC [2018] UKFTT 69 caught my eye earlier this year. HMRC won the case at the First-tier Tribunal, and it shed a high profile light on IR35 and what HMRC sometimes refers to as ‘bogus employment’. The world of work is changing rapidly, including the proliferation of platform workers, gig economy workers and the like. I think the next two years will see some substantial changes for employers and contractors, as the tax legislation on employment status and engaging workers generally catches up.

Finally, you might not know this about me but…

I am a singer/songwriter and am currently working with a producer on my first EP, You made the news! I think I will be sticking with the day job for some time to come (I am but a spirited amateur on the music front), but I find the whole process of writing, developing, producing and recording material to be fascinating. 


Issue: 1413
Categories: One minute with