ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Christa Ackroyd loses IR35 appeal over £420,000 tax bill

Former BBC presenter Christa Ackroyd faces a massive tax bill after losing her appeal against a ruling that she was an employee, not a freelance contractor, when she worked for the BBC

Judges in the Upper Tribunal upheld last year’s First Tier Tribunal ruling that she was a BBC employee when she presented Look North in Yorkshire and was therefore liable to pay income tax and national insurance contributions.

The case related to the tax years 2006/07 to 2012/13, while she worked for the public broadcaster through her personal service company, Christa Ackroyd Media (CAM).

HMRC argued that she owed £419.151 tax during that time because she had claimed she was self-employed when she was not.

At the earlier court hearing, Ackroyd had accepted that the BBC ultimately had the right to specify what services CAM would provide, and her contract restricted her from providing services to other organisations without the BBC’s consent. Ackroyd was also obliged to perform services and BBC was obliged to pay fees to CAM on a monthly basis.

Commenting on the Upper Tribunal ruling, an HMRC spokesperson said they welcomed the judgment that the presenter was within the intermediary rules. “Employment status is never a matter of choice; it is always dictated by the facts and when the wrong tax is being paid, we put things right.

“It is right that an individual who works through a company, but would have been an employee if they were taken on directly, pays broadly the same amount of tax and national insurance contributions as employees.”

Ackroyd is among a number of television presenters who were paid by the BBC through personal service companies, many of whom are still being pursued by HMRC under the IR35 rules.

HMRC says that it has won most of the tribunal decisions involving television presenters. However, it has also lost a number of high profile cases, including a £1.2m appeal brought by Lorraine Kelly in March this year, and an £124,000 appeal by Loose Women presenter Kaye Adams a month later.


Originally published in Economia on 29 October 2019.