National Audit Office investigates BBC's hiring of freelancers - Legal Comment
Following concerns raised by Parliament and individuals employed by the BBC, the National Audit Office has investigated the nature of, and associated issues related to, individuals hired by the BBC on a freelance basis, particularly those hired through personal service companies (PSCs). The investigation, published this week, found that the BBC has taken steps to help affected individuals, however issues remain unresolved and a number of possible outcomes may have future financial implications for the BBC.
Commenting on this, Mishcon de Reya Partner Paul Noble – who is representing presenters who were previously paid through personal service companies – said:
"This report highlights the fact that many individuals at the BBC have found themselves between a rock and a hard place, caught in the middle of HMRC's tightening of the application of its IR35 rules and an employer that failed to critically evaluate their status.
"Undoubtedly, the lack of certainty many of those affected now have over historic tax issues will cause a great deal of anxiety. It is incumbent upon both the BBC and HMRC to help taxpayers out of the very compromising position they now find themselves in.
"The tactics employed by HMRC have to be questioned. It is worrying that the Treasury now plans to roll out the Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool to the private sector when the state of play with the BBC and other parts of the public sector is still in such flux."
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