One hundred BBC presenters connected with HMRC tax investigation

More than 100 BBC presenters are involved in a tax investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The tax authority believes that the TV personalities are avoiding paying the correct tax by working as freelancers, when they should be working as staff.

The investigation falls on the heels of a tribunal ruling in a case involving BBC News presenters Tim Willcox and Joanna Gosling.

The case, which opened the door to an inquiry on 100 more BBC workers, related to whether Mr Willcox and Ms Gosling were eligible to pay tax as freelancers through their own personal services companies, or should have applied legislation known as IR35.

IR35 is designed to tax “disguised employment” – such as a freelancer working for one employer – at a rate similar to general employment.

Following the ruling in 2014, where HMRC ordered the pair to pay extra tax and National Insurance contributions, the presenters both became staff.

In a statement, the BBC said: “HMRC has initiated or indicated their intention to initiate IR35 proceedings in relation to presenters who are engaged by other broadcasting organisations.

“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.

“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 said employment status is “never a matter of personal choice and is always dictated by the specific facts”.

They said: “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.”