HMRC tests ‘CEST 2.0,’ ahead of secret launch date

It’s unknown when the new version of CEST is going to be unveiled as a release date hasn’t been announced as yet, even though an update to the technology is clearly waiting in the wings.

HMRC specifying when contractors, and other businesses responsible for IR35 status, can expect differences to the tool would allow them to plan ahead.

HM Revenue & Customs were asked about when “CEST 2.0” would be ready for taxpayers to use but a HMRC spokesperson would only say: “We’re making improvements to our ‘Check Employment Status for Tax’ tool, transferring it onto a new platform to enhance the customer experience and to better integrate guidance.”

A Treasury document is a little more forthcoming, saying that a “customer journey review” of the tool has been undertaken by HMRC’s Data Analysis Team.

The team is identifying which CEST questions cause “the most difficulty,” and is exploring how more targeted support could be offered to users.

Kate Cottrell, an IR35 expert stated, “The Administrative Burdens Advisory Board was the first to reveal this month that ‘HMRC are working hard to improve CEST.’

“But maybe HMRC should say a bit more about what they are actually doing and crucially, when stakeholders should expect another rollout.”

PSCs will likely just be pleased HMRC is finally prepared to try something new with CEST, following countless criticisms of the tool, and on a few occasions of HMRC standing by it.

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