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BBC presenters lose out to HMRC in IR35 tax tribunal

The dispute between HMRC and BBC broadcasters over their IR35 status continues to rumble on…with the latest round going in HMRC’s favour. reported on the IR35 tax tribunal ruling, which found that three BBC presenters were all caught by IR35 for a series of contracts with the BBC.

The presenters, David Eaves, Tim Wilcox and Joanna Gosling, all worked for the Beeb via PSC arrangements. The ruling means they have failed in their appeal against an accumulative tax bill of £300,000, although HMRC won’t be able to recover the full amount.

The verdict wasn’t cut and dried, with the two tribunal judges taking opposing views over the IR35 status of the presenters, but Judge Harrriet Morgan, who had the casting vote, concluded that there was “sufficient mutuality and at least a sufficient framework of control to place the assumed relationships between the BBC and the presenters in the employment field”.

Presenters “acted in good faith”

Although the ruling ultimately went against the BBC presenters, HMRC failed to prove carelessness on their part or that of their advisors. This means HMRC could only recoup employment taxes going back 4, rather than 6, years.

The tribunal acknowledged that the BBC had given the presenters no choice but to provide their services through PSCs and had failed to warn them about the IR35 risks.

Nevertheless, HMRC still emerges as the victor in this case - and reinforces the message to contractors, agencies and hirers - ignore IR35 at your peril.

This is especially true, given that the planned extension of the IR35 off payroll working rules to the private sector is now just over 6 months away.

IR35 changes - key dates ahead of April 2020

We’ve pencilled in these key dates with the caveat that anything could happen amidst the uncertainty of Brexit and the possibility of a snap general election.

14th October 2019

As things stand now, parliament is due to reconvene on 14th October 2019, when the monarch delivers a speech written by the Government setting out the programme of legislation and policies that it intends to pursue in the forthcoming parliamentary session.

October / November 2019

Thereafter, comes the Autumn Budget which would provide final confirmation the the off payroll changes will go ahead as planned.

6th April 2020

The new legislation would impact payments made from 6th April 2020.

Don’t be an ostrich with IR35!

While there is still a lot of chatter that “it might not happen,'' the wheels are firmly in motion for the off-payroll rules to be extended to the private sector from April 2020. We think it is highly unlikely that these plans will be kicked into touch now.

For agencies and their clients who engage PSC contractors, now is the time to act.

We have extensive experience supporting agencies in the public sector manage the reforms and can work with you on a consultative basis to navigate the IR35 changes from start to finish.

Just give us a call on 02392 883300 or email

Visit the Liquid Friday IR35 hub