'Gas-lit' Kaye Adams says she’s HMRC’s IR35 punchbag

Kaye Adams has said her ten-year IR35 ordeal with HMRC has taken hundreds of thousands of pounds of her own money.

The Loose Women host said the £200,000 it individually cost her to fight HMRC compares to the £125k it chased her over for a decade.

Had she “decided way back in 2014 to settle, I would be so much better off,” a frustrated yet accepting Adams said in a BBC radio interview.

But calling herself “bloody-minded,” the 61-year-old said she’d fight HMRC all over again -- not that it has given her much choice to date.

'That is a lie'

Being read on-air a statement from HMRC saying it ‘always tries to resolve disputes out of court,’ Adams twice cut in; “They did not.”

“The first bit; ‘We seek to resolve without going to litigation’ in my instance, that is a lie,” Adams told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

“It’s a very strong statement from me, but it’s true.

“I also know of many other people…[who don’t feel] there’s any real, genuine attempt [by HMRC] to resolve things without litigation.”


Adams said being dragged to three tribunals, winning all three, with HMRC now not explicitly saying she’s won despite ending its pursuit, has left her feeling ‘gas-lit.’

When prompted, she also agreed her experience has changed her view of how society is run.

Adams confessed to feeling pummelled, too.

“I do think it’s gas-lighting because if you go through three tribunals and you win every one -- and they [HMRC] have never won on my case, and yet still they decline to say ‘Ok we take the word of the tribunals here; we’re listening to what they’re saying,’ then that…[just leaves] me in this limbo.

“After 10 years of fighting [HMRC], I waited for the moment that they would say ‘We’re going to leave you alone.’ I expected to feel elated. And I feel like a punchbag.”

'You might as well call me a thief'

Adams said the worst part was how the Revenue made her feel.

“You’re treated like a wrongdoer. I wouldn’t say a criminal; maybe that’s too much. You’re treated like a wrongdoer.

“I’m just an ‘ordinary Joe’ who went to university, who tried to work hard; who’s built a career. I might have had a few parking tickets but that’s about the limit I think of my wrongdoing!

“I genuinely am somebody who sticks by the rules but suddenly you’re cast in the position of a tax dodger. Which to me.. [is] horrific. You might as well as call me a thief.

“I want to pay my taxes. I want to contribute. I work hard. I pay a lot of tax and I’m delighted to do so. So to somehow be cast in this role as somebody who’s trying to cheat the system, that has been the most awful part of it.”

'HMRC has the bottomless pit of the taxpayers' purse'

Modestly, Adams said she didn’t want to ‘bleat on’ – acknowledging her HMRC experience wasn’t comparable to the “horrific” chemical attacks featured in the radio show’s prior segment.

She also said that, initially, she would have totally accepted the judge’s decision, had the first FTT found in the Revenue's favour.

“When I went to the first tribunal I thought…‘I’ll take the verdict – if I’ve made a mistake, I’ll take the verdict.’ But I won it. And then you go to the second one, and I win it again, and then you think, ‘Well what is going on here?’

“Because I don’t have the resources to fight these legal battles. HMRC has the bottomless pit of the taxpayers’ purse.

“I mean this has cost me personally £200,000 to fight and get a victory. And they’re offering virtually no costs whatsoever. If I had decided way back in 2014 to settle, I would be so much better off.   

“The reason I am talking about this now is…What is justice? Where is the accountability here? And we’re back to this David and Goliath scenario whereby a government organisation decides what the answer is -- and is ruddy well going to keep going until they get the answer they want. Well this time they haven’t.”

'HMRC thought the advice was perfectly legitimate'

Asked by Woman’s Hour presenter Emma Barnett that if she had her time all over again, whether she’d structure her affairs differently, Adams was defiant.

“No I would not change. The advice at the time was perfectly legitimate. More importantly, HMRC thought the advice was perfectly legitimate for many, many, many years. They never questioned it – they were quite comfortable with it. They changed their position on it; they just failed to tell the rest of us.”

On the same issue earlier on in her interview, Adams explained: “Around 2014, there was no change in [the IR35] legislation, but HMRC decided to interpret the legislation in a different way and that’s what I have an issue with. To quote, ‘crackdown’ on people and to try get more tax on them.

“One of the really egregious things about…[IR35] is that it’s retrospective. You’re going along for 10- 15 years filing your tax returns, everything’s fine; there’s nothing secretive about it, there’s nothing hidden. Then suddenly what you’ve been doing for 10-15 years is not ok.”


Probed by HMRC over her contracts with BBC Radio Scotland, Adams later added: “And for a long time I carried a level of shame about that.

“I can’t even believe I’m saying this because I’m a politics and economics student -- I believe in the rule of law; I believe in the establishment. But this has seriously diminished my faith, because it does feel like the big force with the power does not want to be proved wrong.”

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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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