The IR35 Exodus: How Tech Contractors are Leaving the UK

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The IR35 Exodus: How Tech Contractors are Leaving the UK

The IR35 Exodus: How Tech Contractors are Leaving the UK

Over the past few years, the UK has seen a significant Exodus of Tech Contractors. This mass departure, often referred to as the “IR35 Exodus,” is largely due to changes in the country’s tax legislation. This article delves into the reasons behind this Exodus, its implications, and how the UK can potentially mitigate the negative impacts.

Understanding the IR35 Legislation

The IR35, also known as the Intermediaries Legislation, was introduced by the UK government in 2000. Its primary aim was to tackle ‘disguised employment,’ where individuals work as contractors for tax benefits, even though they operate as employees in all other respects.

Changes in the IR35 Legislation

In April 2020, the UK government made significant changes to the IR35 legislation. The responsibility for determining a contractor’s employment status shifted from the contractor to the end client. This change has led to a significant increase in the number of contractors deemed ‘inside IR35,’ meaning they are considered employees for tax purposes.

The Impact of IR35 Changes on Tech Contractors

The changes in the IR35 legislation have had a profound impact on Tech Contractors in the UK. Many have seen a significant reduction in their take-home pay, leading to dissatisfaction and, in many cases, a decision to leave the UK.

Decreased Take-Home Pay

Being classified as ‘inside IR35‘ means that contractors are subject to higher tax and National Insurance contributions, significantly reducing their take-home pay. For example, a contractor earning £500 per day could see their annual income drop by as much as £15,000.

Loss of Flexibility

One of the main attractions of contracting is the flexibility it offers. However, being deemed ‘inside IR35‘ means that contractors are treated as employees, losing the flexibility that contracting typically provides.

The IR35 Exodus: How Tech Contractors are Leaving the UK

The IR35 Exodus: Tech Contractors Leaving the UK

The changes in the IR35 legislation have led to a significant number of Tech Contractors leaving the UK. This Exodus has several implications for the UK tech industry and the economy as a whole.

Brain Drain

The departure of skilled Tech Contractors from the UK has led to a ‘brain drain,’ with a significant loss of talent and expertise. This could potentially hinder the growth of the UK‘s tech industry and its ability to compete on a global scale.

Economic Impact

The Exodus of Tech Contractors also has economic implications. The loss of high-earning contractors could lead to a decrease in tax revenue. Additionally, the departure of these contractors could lead to increased project costs and delays, impacting the overall productivity of the economy.

Case Study: The Impact of the IR35 Exodus on UK Businesses

A recent survey by ContractorCalculator found that 76% of UK businesses have lost highly skilled contractors due to the IR35 changes. Furthermore, 71% of businesses reported project delays, and 70% reported increased project costs.

How Can the UK Mitigate the Impact of the IR35 Exodus?

There are several ways the UK could potentially mitigate the impact of the IR35 Exodus.

  • Review and Amend the IR35 Legislation: The UK government could review the IR35 legislation and make amendments to ensure it is fair and does not discourage contracting.

  • Provide Clearer Guidance: The government could provide clearer guidance on the IR35 legislation to help businesses and contractors understand their obligations.

  • Invest in Skills Development: The UK could invest in skills development to fill the talent gap left by departing contractors.


The IR35 Exodus is a significant issue facing the UK tech industry. The departure of skilled Tech Contractors due to changes in tax legislation has led to a brain drain and economic implications. However, by reviewing and amending the IR35 legislation, providing clearer guidance, and investing in skills development, the UK could potentially mitigate the impact of this Exodus.