We’re all sadly familiar with the term ‘fake news’ by now, and it seems that HMRC might just have taken a leaf out of a certain world leader’s book when publishing the minutes of its recent forum event.

HMRC has been widely accused of releasing an inaccurate and misleading set of minutes from its recent IR35 forum.

The forum, which took place this July, was attended by representatives of many major industry bodies. One of the inevitable hot topics was the IR35 reforms in the public sector.

It’s been said by organisations such as the IPSE that the discussions around this topic were ‘frank’, and suggested that HMRC’s version of events were misleading.

With the public sector reforms such a contentious topic, this oversight or lack of accurate reporting has certainly ruffled some feathers.

“The IR35 forum is supposed to advise on IR35 issues in a transparent manner. IPSE takes part in the forum in good faith, as do all the other stakeholders,” said IPSE chairman James Collings. “However, the recent minutes do not accurately reflect the frank discussions at the July meeting and I have today expressed my concern about this to HMRC.”

Collings claims that he and other stakeholders ‘raised serious concerns about the significant failings of, and damage created by, the rollout of IR35 changes in the public sector’ during the forum.

So inaccurate were HMRC’s version of events however, that Collings claims a reader would be ‘forgiven for thinking that no public sector organisations have faced contractors walking out, and the subsequent delay of crucial projects at all’.

Such discrepancies at a time when HMRC is facing negativity anyway are unlikely to win many fans. Some critics have suggested the organisation is somewhat shirking the responsibility it has for the mass walk-outs among contractors in the public sector.

Collings adds: “The reforms have, in fact, caused many contractors to turn their backs on the public sector entirely, and HMRC must be honest about the problems associated with this complex and onerous legislation.”

The public sector IR35 debacle rumbles on sadly, and HMRC has not painted itself in a good light throughout the saga.

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