Avoiding IR35 can be inspirational

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Sweden boiling hot, packed totally wrong clothes, boobs already too big for all bras.
Faced with prospect of wearing yoga bra and expandable tracksuit bottoms for next two months.

It’s Tuesday I think. Since I work most days, I seem to have moved out of the confines of the civilized  time measurement system of 9-5 Monday to Friday….here on Brännö, I drift in and out, only reminded that everyone else uses the Gregorian calendar by my many Skype meetings. But when I am in the UK, it is a fairly time bound life. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t know whether I was able to get my Starbucks fix in the morning before dashing off to an early breakfast meeting in the city.

Starbucks has fulfilled not only the caffeine need in its consumers, but added a precious extra 10 minutes to our mornings to spend with our children or important other stuff (plucking eyebrows, the sun salutation etc). Starbucks helps and ironically – by reinforcing the home/work divide – perpetuates the work/life balance conundrum.

But different countries work in different time zones. Surely if I like working in the middle of the night, I should work with those people who are up in the middle of [my] night. And here is the real usefulness of the internet. Not only does it destroy geographical boundaries but it also allows you to hover between time zones more effectively then ever before. Because there are only two timezones now….online and offline.

Like all babies Investment Impact didn’t spring fully formed out of my womb. No. It was the culmination of many ideas. Both reactive and proactive. And the first one was reactively-actively trying to avoid the IR35 legislation (“Oh what is it?” I hear you ask. Well I shall tell you).

When I took the so-called-voluntary-but-heavily-coerced redundancy from Vodafone, I said

“But I love what I do, maybe I’ll just be a financial consultant, consult back to Vodafone and that way earn more money through my own company” I said naively – forgetting as most people do that the accountancy costs money, the holidays are haphazardly taken between contracts and the burden of proof on you for proving justifiable business expenses is heavy.

“Ah but remember the IR35 rule” said my future fellow consultants in brainwashed monotone voice. “You can’t do anything that looks like it’s employment disguised. Otherwise you’ll be taxed like an employee” (that IS the rule by the way, want more detail you can look here).

“But I won’t be employed, I’ll be a consultant.” I said confused.”None of the perks including the Vodafone Christmas party.” That alone should have been enough to convince the HMRC.

“If you go to work like an employee, are paid monthly like an employee and do a similar job as an employee, then the HMRC considers you guilty of avoiding IR35.”

“But you’re all consultants.”

“Yes, but I haven’t worked for 6 months this year.” said one sad consultant (let’s call him Mr. Stretched).

“And they only extend me week by week.” said another haggard consultant (let’s call him Mr. Maverick).

“And I do extra work in the evenings for another company.” said a third consultant (let’s call him Mr. Dark-Circles)

And looking at them, it dawned on me, the price you had to pay to gain an eensy-weensy bit more dosh.

Ah ha! HMRC you fiend you. Challenge extended.

My consulting services had to be nothing like employment. Firstly, I needed several clients per year. And secondly I needed not to be required on site every time there was a contract. In fact, there seemed to be no escaping it. Investment Impact, the supposed platform for my own consultancy services, actually had to be a real company. Because I did not want to end up stretched, I wasn’t by nature a maverick and pre-daughter, the only dark circles I had came from too many parties.