Professional Passport has attended numerous seminars, meetings and discussions with agencies on the subject of debt transfer.
What has become clear is that there is still widespread confusion to the point that agencies do not feel informed enough to decide what appropriate action they need to take to ensure their ongoing protection.
As a result Professional Passport has compiled a list of the FAQs in an attempt to assist agencies understanding in this area.
These questions and our answers are based on our understanding of the legislation, HMRC guidance and accepted best business practices in relation to these areas.
The answers relate specifically to the MSC legislation and debt transfer.
Agencies should also consider their obligations under other regulations, such as Anti Money Laundering Regulations, and also ensure they are not caught as colluding in tax avoidance.
The answers given are generic and do not constitute advice. If you are in any doubt we always recommend you seek individual advice..
We suggest you review all the Q&As to ensure you have a complete picture.
There are a number of organisations and trade bodies offering guidance and assessments on provider compliance. There are three key points that you should verify when assessing any service in this area to ensure you are fully protected:
1. Does the risk assessment cover all of the solutions offered by a provider?
Many services offer an assessment of an umbrella offering only and ignore the provider's accountancy service offering. All services offered by a provider, even where these services are offered under different company names, need to be assessed to provide protection to the agency.
2. Is it the agency that makes the recommendations of providers to contractors?
If it is the agency making the recommendations then it is the agency that is at risk if a provider is not compliant. You need to obtain clear confirmation from the provider of the assessment as to the level of protection and guarantees they provide. This should confirm that they not only cover any debt transfer liabilities but also are able to cover any class actions brought about for negligence or duty of care.
3. Is the assessment of accountancy service providers a full assessment of their offerings compliance?
Many risk assessments do no more than assess whether a provider could be seen as a managed service company provider. The vast majority of providers are, in HMRC's eyes, MSCPs and therefore this assessment holds little value in assessing compliance. Any assessment of compliance needs to cover the aspect of 'involvement', as defined in the legislation, to provide any worthwhile basis.
Professional Passport is the only organisation in the UK that independently assess providers compliance and operates a PSL for agencies. We only list providers that have had all their services successfully audited.
Our processes are designed to ensure that the agency takes no action to bring them within the scope of the MSC legislation. It is not the agency that recommends a provider it is Professional Passport. As a result it is Professional Passport that holds all the liabilities. We support this with a £5,000,000 debt transfer insurance for our agency members.