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Shout99, the UK's largest freelancer network, warned freelancers not to panic after a land-mark case went against the small business community in the High Court today (Friday March 28).

The High Court dismissed an appeal from former IT freelancer, Gordon Stutchbury, and found that, despite several indicators to the contrary, he was a 'disguised employee' for tax purposes rather than a 'genuine business' and a result was caught under the so-called stealth tax 'IR35'.

Andy White, founder of Shout99 and leading campaigner against IR35 said: "This is not the end of the road for freelancers who want to operate their businesses outside IR35.

"But freelancers should not ignore the situation - they need to take positive action to avoid the pitfalls of running a business in this uncertain climate. This was a confused and uncertain case which was not typical. While it is unfortunate for the individual concerned, it would be a much bigger loss if thousands of freelancers lost heart and volunteered to pay the tax when they still may not need to.

"Freelancers have until April 19 to make that decision. Between now and then, Shout99 will be offering practical help and support about what freelancers should do so they can reasonably claim to be outside IR35."

Shout99 will be holding a seminar 'Threats and Opportunities' for freelancers and their advisers on April 10 which will include advice on how to avoid IR35, taking into account the Stutchbury decision.

Shout99's panel of tax experts will be reviewing the case to see if the business operating system 'Freelancers Outside IR35 (FO35)' needs updating as a result of this judgement. Freelancers Outside IR35 is available through Shout99 and is a comprehensive system for freelancers explaining how to use existing case law and current business indicators to operate outside IR35. It also provides professional representation in the event of a Revenue challenge and insurance cover against possible penalties.

Note to editors:

1. Shout99 is the UK's largest network of freelancers. It operates from
and provides news, information and services for freelancers who operate businesses in the knowledge-based economy.

2. Andy White and IR35 tax expert Kevin Miller are available for interview about this decision and what it means for freelancers.

For more information, contact Susie Hughes 0207 462 7955
March 28, 2003

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