Welcome to the News & Blog

Here at ClearSky, we want to keep you up-to-date with all the latest hot topics that may affect you and your business. This could be anything from IR35 to new legislations.

Please feel free to browse the various categories, individual posts and make your comments known to the author.

Taxman curbs debt recovery powers

HMRC has finally bowed to intense pressure and watered down its controversial direct recovery of debt (DRD) initiative, according to a statement from the Treasury.

Announced by the chancellor at this year’s Budget, the measures allow the Revenue to raid the bank accounts of individuals who owe more than £1,000 in tax. The move attracted widespread criticism from all sides, with many detractors questioning whether the taxman’s recent record of failures meant that it was competent enough to handle these new powers.

Despite insisting that the original safeguards put in place were “robust”, Treasury minister David Gauke admitted that the government “could do more” to protect vulnerable debtors. As a result, HMRC has unveiled a series of new measures in an attempt to appease its critics. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Taxman under fire over strong arm tactics

HMRC stands accused of a “heavy handed” approach to tackling tax evasion, after figures reported the number of prosecutions has soared by over 600% in just three years.

Some 1,165 people were taken to court by the Revenue last year, compared to just 165 in 2010-11. This has caused many industry experts to warn that the taxman is now turning its attention to the ‘average’ taxpayer.

HMRC has been increasingly targeting people who file self-assessment tax returns, plus those with multiple sources of income. It has paid particular attention to consultants, part-time taxi drivers and car boot traders. This has helped the Revenue boost its coffers to the tune of £845 million last year, compared to £609 million in 2012-13. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Labour to double-up on tax avoidance penalties

People who aggressively avoid paying their fair share of tax could be hit by a double whammy of fines, under new plans unveiled by the Labour party.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls announced the proposals, taking a swipe at the government’s “toothless” general anti-abuse rule (GAAR) in the process. He claimed the current scheme offered no disincentive to try and play the system and pledged to bring in tough new measures.

Under the proposals, those found to be avoiding tax could be charged up to 100% of the amount they failed to pay, in addition to what they already owe HMRC. Mr Balls claimed the plans “will provide a tough and genuine deterrent to those who try and abuse the system.” … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Enjoy an early Christmas present from ClearSky

There has really never been a better time to become a contractor. With ever-increasing assignment rates and the prospect of a surge in new opportunities, the future certainly seems bright for those embarking on a freelancing career.

Limited company contractors are able to benefit from a wide range of perks, such as unrivalled tax efficiency and robust protection against financial problems. In addition, a recent survey from polling organisation Ipsos MORI and HMRC revealed that 65% of personal service companies (PSCs) reported a healthy profit during 2012-13.

Now, ClearSky is giving would-be company directors a reason to beat the rush and set up their business in time to take home more money from day one in January. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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By Mike Youds,

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By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Contractors bask in double-digit pay growth

IT contractors are enjoying a sustained purple patch, as the skills epidemic drives up assignment rates.

This is according to the latest UK Salary and Recruiting Trends report from Hays, which reveals that salaries for technology and construction professionals experienced double-digit growth over the last year – streets ahead of the national average of 1.8%. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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Will compliance contractors be victorious in UK’s talent war?

Contractors with expertise in financial services compliance are set to reap the benefits of Britain’s skills epidemic, according to a new study.

Recruitment firm Morgan McKinley has released its latest London Employment Monitor, which found that the lack of skilled compliance professionals has created a “talent war”. As a result, average salaries across most areas increased by 20-30% in October compared to the previous year.

The study highlighted increasing fines for non-compliance and the fear of attracting future penalties as the two contributing factors to this surge. It claimed hiring managers were prepared to offer “premium salaries” to attract professionals with strong technical knowledge. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Taxman commences crackdown on ‘avoidance experts’

Rogue tax advisors who encourage clients to take up aggressive avoidance schemes risk being named and shamed if they fail to clean up their act.

Using new powers granted by the High-Risk Promoters (HRP) rules, HMRC has issued its first batch of warning letters to companies deemed to be the most prolific offenders. The changes grant the taxman the ability to publish details about companies’ products and also gain access to customers’ details. A fine of up to £1 million could also be imposed.

Only four of the 20 advisories that were described as being “persistently unco-operative and opaque in their dealings” have so far received the letters, with the remaining 16 likely to be targeted in the near future. It is hoped the new measures will act as a deterrent to scheme providers and clients alike. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Hot jobs for 2015: will contractors benefit?

Businesses are locked in a fight to secure the best talent, with nearly three quarters of recruiters describing competition within the jobs market as “fierce”.

This is the view of executive staffing firm CT Partners, which has released its latest Hot Jobs forecast of new and emerging roles for 2015. It anticipates that the “war for talent” will continue throughout next year, with the rise of ‘big data’ creating a raft of new opportunities.

Although these positions are likely to be permanent vacancies, the study could offer an insight into the skills contractor clients will be looking for. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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