Tax Glossary

CEST status tool

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Last updated on:
March 17, 2024

The CEST tool is completely anonymous and does not store any personal information. It is accessible to agencies, individual contractors, and those responsible for hiring, providing a series of multiple-choice questions about your work practices.

Despite its utility, be mindful that the tool has been critiqued for not encompassing all aspects of employment scenarios comprehensively.

If you're looking to use the Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool provided by HMRC, you can easily find it by visiting the official HMRC website. This digital tool is designed to help determine your employment status in relation to the IR35 regulations, offering clarity on whether you should be classified as an employee or self-employed for tax purposes.

IR35 Legislation Overview

IR35 aims to counteract disguised employment, where individuals work as de facto employees under the guise of contractors. This legislation ensures that individuals and companies pay the appropriate amount of tax and National Insurance contributions. Originally implemented in the public sector, it was extended to the private sector in 2021.

Navigating the CEST Tool

The tool will ask you various questions about your work arrangement, such as:

  • The nature of your service provision (e.g., through a limited company or as a sole trader)
  • The possibility of substitution in your role
  • The level of control your client has over your work
  • Procedures for handling unsatisfactory work outcomes
  • Your method of payment
  • Any "employee" benefits you receive

Upon completion, the CEST tool provides an indication of your employment status for tax purposes, guiding on whether your client should treat you as an employee for tax and National Insurance contribution purposes.

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