Articles - 29th May 2019

Tax Time Bombs & Burnout For Gig Economy Workers

Words by Emily & Jack

Actors union accuses HMRC of ‘unfair’ tax scrutiny

Actors, singers, dancers and other creative professionals are being unfairly targeted by the UK tax authority in a “ruthless grab for revenue”, according to a trade union representing 45,000 performers.

Representatives of the union Equity told the Financial Times that more of its members had been receiving inquiries from HM Revenue & Customs, querying whether they were truly self-employed.

The development comes at a time when several high-profile broadcasters have also been investigated by HMRC over their tax status.

Companies in the creative industry have warned that HMRC’s increased scrutiny of the tax status of key professionals could have a negative impact on a lucrative but fragile sector, which contributed £100bn to the UK economy in 2017. Production companies have raised concerns with Equity about an increasingly uncertain tax and political environment.

HMRC said: “We are working with the industry on guidance for actors and other performers which will be consistent with our established position and case law. Most actors will be self-employed, but if the facts show they are employed then they must pay tax that reflects their status.


Treasury refusing to acknowledge IR35 “tax time bomb” planted in freelance sector

The Treasury has come under fire for its sustained refusal to acknowledge the true extent of the Off-Payroll tax, which has misled contractor clients and threatens major disruption within the private sector.

Despite having been corrected on multiple occasions, discourse from the Treasury – specifically Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride – continues to misrepresent the Off-Payroll tax as simply a reapportionment of responsibility for applying the IR35 rules

In a similar fashion, Government has been accused of refusing to acknowledge the chaotic impact of the public sector changes, with HMRC having dismissed the substantial body of evidence of rife non-compliance and disruption as ‘anecdotal’.


Millennials and the gig economy: are they heading for burnout?

To be part of the self-employed “dream” today is to work endless hours, be always on and live by the “love what you do” philosophy promoted by Steve Jobs. Gen Y has an obsession with finding meaning in their professions, that can take them to the brink.

“I see business owners and entrepreneurs in their twenties already highly stressed and heading for burnout,” says Dr Sarah Davies, a Harley Street psychologist who regularly treats young people with the condition. “Some of the extreme cases I have seen are people who have arrived at a point where, while their strong-minded drive would like to keep pushing themselves, their bodies have had enough.”

Symptoms Davies lists are chronic fatigue, autoimmune conditions, debilitating migraines, severe bodily aches and pains, back problems, fibromyalgia, IBS and neurological symptoms.

What may need to change, though, is how those who “love what they do” approach work. By which I mean, they should know when to stop. As Sarah Davies says, “I see deeply held beliefs related to self-esteem [from burnout clients]. Beliefs along the lines of, ‘I’m not good enough’; ‘I have to be perfect’; ‘Everybody else is doing better than me’. These fuel drive and achievement. But they also drive perfectionism and discontentment. Accepting that your efforts are simply ‘good enough’ and knowing when to draw a line under work projects is vital.”


The recession hasn’t ended for gig economy workers

The gig economy is creating extreme financial hardship for millions of American workers, even as the overall economy continues to expand.

That’s according to the Federal Reserve’s latest report on economic wellbeing in the US. The report, which was released last week, found that in 2018, workers who supported themselves through the gig economy struggled financially far more than the average person.

58 per cent of full-time gig workers said they would have a hard time coming up with $400 to cover an emergency bill — compared to 38 per cent of people who don’t work in the gig economy.

But a surprising 5 per cent of those surveyed said gig work is their main source of income. That group was the most likely to report financial distress, and the least likely to have health insurance, paid time off, unemployment benefits, and basic labour protections.

Their financial hardship helps explain the anger that prompted thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers to go on strike in recent months. In April, as Uber prepared to make its debut as a publicly traded company, its drivers launched dozens of protests in the US and around the world demanding higher pay and recognition as employees, not independent contractors.


Role Reshuffle bags Rebecca Pow the position of Culture Minister

After Michael Ellis left his role in the transport department, Rebecca Pow was appointed Culture Minister. Also holding the position as Conservative MP for Taunton Deane, Pow now wears the hat of minister for arts, heritage and tourism. Pow announced on Twitter that she was “honoured and absolutely delighted” at her new position. Joining her in her department is

culture secretary Jeremy Wright and minister for digital and creative industries Margot James.


A UK freelancer’s overview of maternity rights

Freelancer UK gives an update on what to expect from a maternity package for freelancers, and what rights to expect from options ranging from SMP to MA1. Read more here.

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