IR35 applies if you carry out work through an “intermediary” – typically a limited company of which you are a shareholder with a holding of more than 5% - to an end-user under circumstances in which, were there a contract direct between yourself and that end-user, that contract would be one of employment.
IR35 was announced in 1999 as an anti-avoidance measure and seeks to deny that freelance contractors are genuinely in business and to tax them as employees without establishing a proper employment relationship. Its extraordinary complexity makes it almost impossible for contractors to assess whether they fall within it or not - in some cases their status may rest on contracts they have never seen.
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