Occasionally contractors ask us if it is worth closing their company and starting a new one in order to avoid an IR35 enquiry because once the company has been struck off there is no company to investigate and no company assets to pursue.
We will consider below whether this is true or not but it is first necessary to consider that HMRC carry out very very few investigations including considerably less in recent years than previous ones. To balance this, they still do carry out investigations and it seems entirely possible that the upcoming budget may deliver at least some small improvements to the tools that HMRC will have in their armoury to make investigations more worthwhile.
So back to the question of whether closing a company achieves the aim. Well there are no guarantees but HMRC will investigate fewer dissolved companies than active ones.
After an application is made to Companies House to dissolve a company, i.e. close it, there is a three month delay whilst interested parties, including HMRC can request a delay in closure in order to make a claim on any debts owed by the company. In respect of IR35, HMRC would be able to request the company is kept open to continue an investigation that is already in progress or commence an investigation if they have any suspicions.
Once the company is struck off, it is possible for HMRC to restore a company for PAYE but in reality this rarely, if even, happens.
However our advice is always: if you believe that IR35 doesn’t apply to you, then closure of a company for genuine reasons should hold no fears.