IPSE responds to HMRC £420,000 IR35 case victory against BBC presenter

IPSE has today responded to HMRC’s IR35 case victory against BBC presenter Christa Ackroyd. In the first IR35 case since 2011, HMRC contested Christa Ackroyd Media (CAM) Ltd’s engagement with the BBC, saying it was caught by IR35 legislation.

The case, covering the tax years 2006/7 to 2012/13, resulted in a tax bill of just under £420,000 for CAM. The ruling deemed that the three main factors which determine IR35 status applied to the engagement:

  • Personal service was required (there was no right to substitution)
  • The BBC exercised significant control over the work performed by Ms Ackroyd
  • There were obligations on both parties (mutuality of obligation) to carry out work and make regular, monthly payments for that work.

In addition, CAM Ltd could not seek work elsewhere, without the express permission of the BBC.

Ms Ackroyd told the tribunal that the limited company model was in place at the insistence of the BBC, and that she had received assurances from her accountant that the arrangement was tax compliant. But these factors are not relevant under the legislation, and as a result, Ms Ackroyd’s company is liable for the tax.

Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s Deputy Director Policy, commented: “This case is significant for several reasons: it’s the first IR35 ruling for seven years, it has resulted in an extremely large tax bill for an individual, and it shows that the original IR35 legislation, deeply flawed though it is, can be made to work when HMRC actually enforce it.

“The current drive to push all the liability onto the client from the outset is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Last year’s change to the way IR35 works in the public sector has essentially stopped contracting in the sector altogether, robbing it of vital specialist skills and damaging public services. If the Government extends the reforms to the private sector, as it has signalled it wants to, it will damage not only our flexible labour market, but the UK economy as a whole.”

IPSE understands there are several other BBC engagements under investigation, though it remains to be seen whether they will contain the same characteristics as this one.

Meet the author

Andy Chamberlain

Deputy Director of Policy and External Affairs