BBC presenter loses IR35 appeal

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HMRC has won the first in a series of appeals concerning the application of employment intermediaries legislation to BBC television presenters, after a first tier tribunal decided that IR35 applied to the arrangements under which the BBC contracted a presenter of the regional news programme, Look North.

The appeal concerned the BBC engaging presenters through their own personal service companies rather than directly as either employees or self-employed freelancers.

The case concerned Christa Ackroyd, whose company Christa Ackroyd Media Ltd (CAM), was engaged under a seven-year contract with the BBC to provide her services.

Ackroyd was appealing against demands for £419,151 from HMRC relating to income tax and national insurance contributions for the tax years 2006-07 to 2012-13.

HMRC argued that her status was that of an employee. As such CAM Ltd should account for tax and NICs accordingly. Ackroyd contended that her status for the purposes of the intermediaries legislation was that of a self-employed contractor, and there was no further liability on the part of CAM Ltd.

The FTT found that the hypothetical contract would have been a contract of employment. This was on the basis of mutuality of obligation, sufficient control of what, when, where and how Ackroyd performed her role, and the fact that CAM had to provide Ackroyd, and not a substitute.

It added that she would not have been in business on her own account. The tribunal was satisfied that the BBC could require Ackroyd not only to work on a particular day, but also it could direct what work she did. They could require her if necessary to report on a particular story without also presenting the Look North programme.