HMRC criticised over CEST

HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool has been criticised for making blanket assessments, which are biased towards determining employment status. 

Almost all organisations in the public sector who have been using HMRC’s CEST tool have deemed their engagements as ‘inside IR35’, Freedom of Information requests by Contractor Calculator have revealed.

Network Rail declared that 99 per cent of their contractors worked inside IR35 in 2018, having used CEST to determine employment status. Similarly, High Speed 2 (HS2) found that 98 per cent of contractors were inside IR35.

David Chaplin, CEO of Contractor Calculator, said CEST “does not provide a self-employed outcome the majority of the time”, and criticises the blanket assessments CEST seems to produce.