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New ways of working: tax legislation needs to adapt


Published: 01 Nov 2022 Update History

The explosion in home and remote working caused by the pandemic means that tax, social security, and visa rules need updating.

The pandemic caused an explosion in the number of individuals working from home – even from different countries. Employers that didn’t previously allow remote working were forced by the pandemic quickly to adapt.

It is unlikely that there will be a return to previous working patterns for certain types of employees. The need for easements during the pandemic highlighted that tax and social security contributions law do not align with current working practices. Even visas require a review.

ICAEW Tax Faculty expressed this view in its evidence Tax Faculty response in ICAEW REP 91/22 to the OTS call for evidence on Hybrid and Distance Working

The law and HMRC’s policies on hybrid and home working, benefits-in-kind (BiK) and expenses require updating. For example, the distinction in earnings and BiK tax law between reimbursement and provision by employers to employees should be reviewed.

Social security agreements need to be updated to cover the position of people who are not posted but decide to work elsewhere for a limited period, to prevent them having multiple liabilities to social security contributions.

A review of visas is required to cover nomad visas, business visas alongside an exemption from taxation as a BiK of the cost of obtaining visas provided by employers.

There needs to be a system of clearances as to whether a permanent establishment exists and clear safe harbour tests.

Clearer guidance is required.

International agreement via the OECD is probably necessary. Perhaps HMRC could take the lead here?

HMRC needs to do more to help businesses meet their compliance obligations efficiently and cost effectively, especially in relation to incoming and outgoing expatriate employees. This would make the UK a more attractive place in which to run and grow businesses. 

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