Presenters forced to work via Personal Service Companies

Presenters forced to work via Personal Service Companies

The IR35 case involving BBC newsreader Joanna Gosling concluded at the High Court on Friday.

Alongside fellow presenters David Eades and Tim Willcox, Ms Gosling was appealing a combined IR35 liability of more than £300,000, ContractorCalculator reports.

HM Revenue & Customs claim that the presenters were essentially employees and are therefore caught by the IR35 legislation.

In response, the presenters claim that they were forced by the BBC to operate via their own Personal Service Companies.

Giving evidence, Gosling, 47, broke down in court as she accused the BBC of operating a “two-tier system”. She describes how some BBC stars were given a multitude of benefits. This whilst others were left with no job security at all. Gosling further revealed that the corporation tried to make her work on the day her baby was due and attempted to cut her pay when she returned.

The existence of control?

This working relationship is nothing more than “an elegant form of a zero hours contract” claimed Jonathon Peacock QC, in representation of the presenters.

Peacock argued that the presenters couldn’t be instructed on how to present in their broadcasts. A key indicator that control was not present. This notion was strongly rejected by HMRC. They counter-argued that while no preemptive control existed, control was still applied outside of live broadcasting hours.

Judge Harriet Morgan has now retired to consider the case. A verdict is expected soon.

Latest twist in the scandal

This is the latest twist in the IR35 scandal currently encircling the BBC. In February, HMRC won its first IR35 case in almost a decade after Christa Ackroyd was found caught by IR35. The former BBC Look North presenter lost her appeal against HMRC, leaving her with a tax bill totaling £419,151.

And as reported by Larsen Howie previously, 100’s of BBC presenters still face the prospect of substantial tax bills. This comes in the wake of the Ackroyd case, as HMRC steps up its efforts into perceived tax avoidance by individuals using Personal Service Companies.

Back in April, BBC Deputy Director General Anne Bulford told the Public Accounts Committee that hardship payments have already been made to some presenters. She also failed to rule out the possibility that the BBC would pay some taxes back, giving hope to those affected. Whether or not this actually happens, only time will tell.

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