Eamonn Holmes says he’s an IR35 test case

Eamonn Holmes is the next high-profile TV presenter to be ‘on the taxman’s chopping block’ over the tele and radio host’s IR35 status, it emerged at the weekend.

The ITV anchor has reportedly spent 17 weeks waiting to hear if a court accepts he used his PSC, Red White and Green Ltd, compliantly, or in breach of IR35 as HMRC has alleged.  

“I’ve been freelance 28 years and that’s been okay. Now they’ve said it’s not okay,” the 58-year-old told yesterday’s Mail on Sunday.

'Test case'

Holmes currently presents for Sky News, Channel 5 and Talk Radio, but is best-known for being the co-host of This Morning -- on ITV, which is understood to be the ‘end-user’ in the case.

“I am the test case,” he also reportedly told the Sunday tabloid. “There is nobody more freelance than me, but they are trying to prove our jobs are regular and guaranteed.”

The chance of HMRC winning the case solely on Mutuality of Obligation – broadly, ‘an obligation for work to be provided and an obligation to carry it out,’ seems slim.  

'Holy trinity'

First, it is regarded as only one part of the ‘holy trinity’ of factors required for an IR35 case to be successfully proved, alongside the more determinant ones of Personal Service and Control.

Secondly, since July, HMRC has argued that Mutuality is present in every contractor engagement anyway or, in the Revenue’s words, ‘MOO is necessary for a contract to exist.’

More likely to secure HMRC an IR35 victory is to have alleged that Holmes, who anchored the very first ever GMTV for ITV back in 1993, has become ‘part and parcel’ of ITV.

'Chopping block'

He is not the only presenter to be in the Revenue’s crosshairs yet he may be the highest-profile, and is thought to be the only one to end up in court over engagements with ITV.

At the BBC, presenter Christa Ackroyd is appealing her IR35 case, and the verdict in the IR35 case of news anchors Joanna Gosling, David Eades and Tim Wilcox is expected shortly.

For now though, it is Mr Holmes who is “next under the taxman’s chopping block in their latest high-profile IR35 case,” accountant Michael Hough wrote on LinkedIn, referring to HMRC.

'Very significant'

His comments come as Dame Jenni Murray, a BBC Radio 4 host, has reportedly revealed she faces a “very significant” tax bill under IR35, following a winding-up of her PSC to join the BBC’s payroll.  

Although they mulled a legal case for maladministration against the BBC (on the basis it forced them to use PSCs), some BBC presenters might now hope the corporation can quickly close its deal with HMRC, despite accusations that a settlement would be both unfair to all non-BBC contractors and taxpayers at large.

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