Moira Stuart joins limited company tax-saving row

Moira Stuart has become the latest high-profile figure to be exposed in the press for using a limited company with the effect of avoiding taxes that would otherwise fall due.

The ex-BBC newsreader joins Student Loans boss Ed Lester in being scrutinised for bypassing national insurance and PAYE by virtue of receiving pay as a personal service company (PSC), rather than as an individual.

Relating to her work and appearance in adverts for HM Revenue & Customs, in which Ms Stuart admits “tax doesn’t have to be taxing,” the fingered payments to Moira Stuart Ltd were for the 2010/11 tax year.

Recorded on Companies House, they show that on their total of £22,607, Ms Stuart paid £4,380 in corporation tax (at 21%), whereas she would have paid £11,303 had the earnings been subject to top-rate income tax (50%).

The filings with the public registrar also reveal that the limited company, of which Ms Stuart is the sole director, was formed in April 2010, just days before the 50p rate was introduced by the-then Labour government.

But Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs dismissed claims that its public face is a tax avoider, reportedly saying Stuart “is not employed by us, so there is no question of disguised employment.”

While HMRC’s reasoning is unclear, such an‘outside-IR35’ assessment may reassure some 30 contract workers at Hammersmith and Fulham council as, despite their employment status being put up for a private review on Friday, they were engaged as self-employed individuals too.

Since the local authority’s move, triggered by the growing concern over PSC usage in the public sector, the tax department has itself become victim to the exposés: the Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that the two long-serving HMRC officials have also exploited the tax advantages that limited companies permit.


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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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