BBC in talks with HMRC to reach IR35 deal

Reports have emerged in recent days suggesting that the BBC is attempting to negotiate a deal with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) over the historic tax liabilities of a number of it’s presenters, many of whom have incurred such liabilities under IR35 following the recent reforms.

The idea is that the broadcaster will effectively deal with it’s presenters’ retrospective IR35 demands “in one go with HMRC,” reports suggest.

The news comes at a time when there is a big question mark surrounding the issue of whether or not the BBC will accept liability or responsibility for the fact that many of it’s presenters used personal service companies (PSCs).

In recent weeks, leaked emails and other reports have emerged indicating that the BBC effectively ‘forced’ many of it’s presenters to take this approach, despite many being reluctant to do so. However, the BBC itself has provided little comment on the issue.

Damian Collins MP recently questioned the BBC’s Director General, Lord Hall.

“Freelancers… who were told they had to set up a personal service company… were reluctant to do that,” Mr Collins said.

“Now if the consequences of those decisions… taken against the wishes of the freelancer or the employee [are] that they have a tax liability… will [the BBC] accept some responsibility for that?” he asked, to which Lord Hall simply replied that the organisation was “pursuing discussions” with HMRC.

“I’m concerned about this from the point of view of the people who are working for us and I want to make sure we can get this resolved. So I’m really hopeful HMRC and ourselves can come to some settlement,” Lord Hall said, indicating that the broadcaster was hoping a single deal could be agreed.

He added that the BBC was being “proactive” in attempting to resolve the issue in an effort to reach a prompt agreement.

Meanwhile, another BBC spokesperson criticised the recent changes to IR35 themselves, arguing that changes to tax legislation had resulted in “additional complexity and costs” all round.