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Presenters who were paid through personal service companies (PSCs) could be forced to pay back payments to HMRC if they are found to be inside IR35.

The BBC and IR35

Over a hundred current and former BBC presenters face tax avoidance allegations following a tribunal ruling with presenters Tim Willcox and Joanna Gosling.

The hearing took place before a first tier tax tribunal in July, and was first reported on by Contractor Calculator on Friday 7 October.

The tribunal related to the status of employment of Willcox and Gosling between 2006 and 2013, when the new employment status test was adopted. Both became employed by the BBC in 2014. The pair are appealing against the HMRC ruling.

Around 100 other presenters have been put “under consideration” by HMRC concerning their IR35 status, following the tribunal.

The BBC’s application, quoted by the judge in the tribunal, explained that they are not the only broadcaster hiring presenters through PSCs. “The BBC also understands that HMRC has initiated or indicated their intention to initiate IR35 proceedings in relation to presenters who are engaged by other broadcasting organisations”.
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It said, “The appeals are therefore extremely important not only to the individuals in question, but also to the BBC and to the broadcasting industry as a whole.

“It is up to individuals to ensure they pay the right tax and, since 2013, the BBC has adopted a new employment status test that provides a clear and consistent approach to the employment status of journalists and presenters”.

Test cases of the freelance model

Jennifer Henderson, the BBC’s head of global mobility and employment tax, said in the broadcaster’s submission; “The appeals are likely to be the first cases to test the freelance model in the broadcasting industry against the IR35 legislation”.

An HMRC spokesperson told the Guardian; “Employment status is never a matter of personal choice and is always dictated by the specific facts.

“When the employment relationship does not accurately reflect the underlying reality of the relationship, the wrong tax is paid then we intervene to ensure the rules apply as parliament intended.

“While there can be many legitimate business reasons for workers being employed through their own companies, there are rules in place enabling HMRC to make sure people who provide their services in this way pay the right tax and national insurance.”

If you think you may be inside IR35, call one of our advisors on 020 3355 4047 or ask for an instant quote online.

About The Author

Stephanie Whalley

Serial snacker, compulsive cocktail sipper and full time wordsmith with a penchant for alliteration, all things marketing and pineapple on pizza.

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