BBC blames accountants for IR35 advice

The BBC is blaming limited company accountants in its battle against a growing number of claims that it bears some responsibility for its presenters’ tax debts under IR35.

Those claims were stoked on Friday by Damian Collins, a Tory MP, who suggested that the broadcaster should pay out if it was proven that it forced presenters to be paid as PSCs.

Responding in the wake of the Christa Ackroyd case, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee also said that if such proof emerges, it would be “a real scandal”.

The MP’s comments follow an IR35 expert’s declaration to ContractorUK that the BBC bears a “moral responsibility” for the £419,000 tax debt that she owes under IR35.

A barrister has gone further, arguing that as Ackroyd only used a PSC on receipt of BBC advice, that it “profited” from the smaller tax liabilities which the set-up afforded the corporation.

Speaking to a Sunday paper, which says affected presenters have now formed a WhatsApp group to threaten a “revolt”, the BBC reiterated its ‘all-clear’ from Deloitte -- back in 2012.

But in a new stance against limited company accountants, the BBC spokesman also told the Sunday Telegraph: “Individuals with a PSC usually engage an accountant to file accounts. Their accountants should have been advising them on the implication of IR35.”

One presenter, speaking on condition of anonymity sounded tired of the buck being passed, reportedly countering: “We have sat by for years watching the BBC say this is nothing to do with them.

“As if we all spontaneously and independently decided to set up Personal Service Companies at the same time. We were never given the option of being staff. This was industrial level tax avoidance by the BBC.”

Other BBC presenters, including Joanna Gosling and Tim Wilcox, will get to have their say later this year, when they jointly contest a bill under IR35 worth a total of almost £1million.

This week, Qdos Contractor, an advisory on status and IR35 will issue a comprehensive analysis of the Christa Ackroyd case, due to be published on Wednesday exclusively on ContractorUK.

Editor's Note: The BBC has responded to this news story since its publication.

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