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Here at Bar2, we believe that every business should have access to the correct support and advice to guide them seamlessly through the IR35 process.  

Our Bar2 IR35 Protect service is designed to assist our partners in demonstrating full compliance within the supply chain. Using a range of intelligent software, the service makes it simple to quickly and accurately determine, communicate and monitor contractors’ IR35 status, with insurance backed decisions along the way.

We’ve summarised the key differences between the Bar2 IR35 Protect service and HMRC CEST Tool to make things that little bit easier when it comes down to demonstrating full compliance within your supply chain.

Benefits of IR35 Protect for agencies and end clients:

  • Access to a designated project team - You will be assigned an experienced project team to assist you all the way from start to finish, along with ongoing customer care
  • Reasonable care achieved – The IR35 Protect service sufficiently fulfils HMRC’s requirement for the end client to take ‘reasonable care’ when determining a contractors IR35 status
  • Full SDS's produced - A 25-page detailed SDS is produced for each contractor
  • Contractor query & dispute management – Bar2 take full control when it comes down to managing contractors’ queries and disputes and keep all parties informed
  • Regular reporting, dashboards, and financial risk reports – Bar2 IR35 Protect provides useful tools to help budget and minimise risk with a clear overview of the IR35 project
  • Decisions based on case law – With over 100 questions answered from the end client, fee payer and contractor, the whole picture is considered, and notably questions are based on case law
  • Regular reviewing and monitoring of contractors’ status – The software used enables frequent check ins with contractors to review and monitor their status throughout the assignment
  • Insurance backed determinations - IR35 determinations will have the extra benefit of a tax and legal liability insurance cover to protect against HMRC investigations*
  • Doesn't ignore mutuality of obligation - The full picture is considered as all questions and sections are asked every time
  • Effective in collaboration – The end client, agency, fee payer and contractor are involved throughout the entire process

Disadvantages of IR35 Protect for agencies and end clients:

  • There is a cost to the IR35 Protect service

What is the HMRC CEST Tool?

HMRC’s CEST (Check Employment Status for Tax) Tool is an online questionnaire created by HMRC which is designed to help hirer’s, agencies and workers determine the employment status of a self-employed individual and helps make the decision as to whether the off-payroll working (IR35) rules apply to a contractor or not.

Benefits of using HMRC CEST Tool:

  • Free of charge for the hirer, agency or worker to use
  • The tool is readily available on the HMRC website
  • HMRC will stand by the result as long as all information provided is accurate

Disadvantages of using HMRC CEST Tool:

Although the HMRC tool is free, readily available and claims to honour all determinations, there are also many limitations that end clients and agencies should be aware of including;

  • Mutuality of obligation (MOO) ignored – Case law regarding MOO in both recently won and lost cases, has indicated the importance and relevance of considering MOO when deciding on a contractors IR35 status. For reason’s unbeknown, HMRC have decided to not include a MOO section or questions within the CEST tool.
  • Limited flexibility in reviewing and monitoring – The CEST tool does not offer flexibility, or the complexity required for additional monitoring or reviewing of the contract or assignment in question. For example, monthly check ins to identify if the assignment or working conditions have changed at all, which could in turn affect the IR35 status.
  • Limited collaboration – The hirer, agency or contractor can only undertake the CEST tool individually, denying the ability for important question’s to be answered collaboratively to enable a clearer picture of the contract and working conditions (e.g information such as the workers responsibilities, who decides what work needs to be done, who decides when or how work is done and how the worker is paid etc will need to be clear and determined before undertaking the questionnaire) .
  • Full picture not considered - The CEST tool will not ask all questions or sections due to the question skip logic used. It’s dependent on the answers inputted, meaning the whole picture is not always taken into account.
  • Requirement of expert resources – A large number of companies will not have the expert resources within their business readily IR35 trained and equipped to understand and navigate the important question’s being asked by the CEST tool.

For further information and guidance surrounding the HMRC CEST Tool, you can visit the GOV.UK website here.

Differences between Bar2 IR35 Protect and HMRC CEST Tool

Bar2 IR35 Protect offers a personalised and friendly expert service to end clients and agencies to help navigate their way through IR35 determinations and their new IR35 responsibilities. The service offers a third-party professional service to assist end clients with IR35 determinations, contractor engagement and management, review and monitoring. Alternatively, the HMRC CEST tool provides a ready to use, non-personalised service which doesn’t require any initial consultation. Although this is a quick fix, the CEST tool does require expert resources in house to understand and answer the off-payroll questionnaire.

Bar2 IR35 Assessments

Our IR35 assessment service offers guidance as well as quick and easy IR35 checks to give definitive answers, underpinned by market leading insurance to eliminate all risk to your business.

IR35 Assessment service