Decision handed down in the first of a series of appeals concerning the application of IR35

The First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber) (FTT) has handed down its decision in the first of a series of appeals concerning the application of the intermediaries legislation, colloquially known as ‘IR35’, to BBC television news presenters. 

In Christa Ackroyd Media LTD v HMRC TC/2016/04992, the FTT decided that IR35 applied to arrangements under which the BBC contracted for the services of Christa Ackroyd as the presenter of the regional news programme “Look North”.  

The appeal concerned the use by the BBC of ‘off-payroll’ arrangements for presenters, a practice which received significant publicity when the issue came before the Public Accounts Committee in 2012. Many presenters were engaged through personal service companies rather than directly as either employees or self-employed freelancers. IR35 applies to such arrangements if, among other conditions, the arrangements were such that had there been a contract directly between the BBC and the presenter it would have been a contract of employment. 

Christa Ackroyd Media Ltd was engaged under a seven year contract with the BBC to provide the services of Ms Ackroyd on up to 225 days per year. The FTT found that the hypothetical contract would have been a contract of employment, there was: mutuality of obligation; sufficient control of what, when, where and how Ms Ackroyd performed her role (despite Ms Ackroyd’s ability to ad lib in a live news environment); the company had to provide Ms Ackroyd, and not a substitute. There were no material factors inconsistent with employment. The Tribunal also found that Ms Ackroyd would not have been in business on her own account.

Christopher Stone was instructed on behalf of HM Revenue & Customs.

He and various other members of Devereux Chambers are instructed in further IR35 appeals to be heard by the FTT later in 2018.

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