IR35 specialist reacts to ‘cack-handed’ BBC treatment of presenters ‘forced’ to work as contractors…
Leading IR35 adviser, Qdos Contractor, has reacted to the DCMS Committee questioning BBC journalists on issues surrounding pay and IR35, following HMRC’s investigation into the IR35 status of BBC presenters.
Financial journalist, Paul Lewis, described The BBC’s treatment of its workers as ‘cack-handed’, as the organisation ‘forced’ 100s of its presenters to work through personal service companies to avoid paying employee taxes or needing to offer employment rights.
Regional radio broadcaster, Liz Kershaw, also shed light on her experience with The BBC, explaining to the committee that she ‘had to set up as a limited company otherwise they (The BBC) could not engage me as a presenter.’
Journalist and Broadcaster, Kirsty Lang, also said, ‘I trusted The BBC and I feel like I’ve been hung out to dry.’ This was in relation to being told to give up her employed status and work through a limited company upon requesting to go part-time.
Seb Maley, Qdos Contractor CEO, commented:
“The situation does not portray The BBC in good light. Under no circumstance should an engager use its weight and reputation to force a worker down one particular road to save itself money – even more so when the person has placed such trust in the organisation.
“The complex nature of employment status makes it absolutely vital that each working arrangement is assessed on a case by case basis and by experts. From what we’ve heard today, it seems The BBC has completely failed to do this.”
“Last year’s public sector IR35 reform means the client will now pick up the tax bill for incorrect status decisions, but given these cases happened prior to changes, it is the worker left to pay any missing tax. If presenters were ‘bullied’ into working self-employed, they cannot be expected to settle potentially colossal fines.”
“Paul Lewis described HMRC’s CEST tool as the ‘impossible test’, while Kirsty Lang called it ‘not fit for purpose’.
Seb Maley agreed:
“Despite promises to review the tool used to set IR35 status, CEST remains flawed, including questions that are completely irrelevant to BBC presenters. The technology has been tweaked on-the-fly and has been known to be contradictory too. But it must be remembered that it isn’t mandatory, and independent assessments are perfectly acceptable too.”
Qdos Contractor research highlighted that, in April 2017, 85% of contractors revealed they did not trust HMRC’s CEST Tool, while 81% of 1503 contractors surveyed in February 2018 would be deterred from working with a client if CEST was the only method used in an IR35 assessment.
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