Previously, in an IR35 tribunal, the popular TV host Lorraine Kelly made headlines as she defeated the HMRC. However, this was not the only such case on a famous media personality. A year ago, the HMRC forced Christa Ackroyd, a BBC presenter, to pay around £400,000. The taxman concluded that her work with the broadcaster fell into the category of the IR35. Currently, she has lodged an appeal against the decision.
Some experts argue that due to the fact that both the hosts had a similar nature of work, it is possible that their results vary due to “luck,” as Ms. Kelly won due to sheer luck on her side which on the other hand deserted Ms. Ackroyd.
We opine that Ms. Kelly won fair and square—not due to luck. We believe that the engagement for the presenters by the BBC had unambiguous guidelines on who belonged inside the IR35. It is clear that the use of personal service companies by the presenters was the policy of the company. However, the ITV Breakfast’s engagement with Ms. Kelly seemed to indicate a contract for service; thus it did not fall inside the IR35.
The notes from the court on Ms. Kelly and Ms. Ackroyd’s cases concluded that the ‘Control’ element was the deciding factor which influenced the final outcome. The BBC had Ms. Ackroyd work directly under their control but in the case of Ms. Kelly, it was apparent that she had a greater degree of control over how offered her services.
For example, to a defined extent, Ms. Kelly arrived and left according to her wishes. Once, she refused to interview Elton John at 4am as she found it “inconvenient”, thereby refusing work at will while also accepting projects from other clients. While her ITV contract was in effect, she worked with other media companies. Meanwhile, a fashion label was also advertised and designed by her during her ITV contract. Hence, it was evident that she was autonomous. As a result, her judges stated that her contract “falls far substantially below the sufficient degree required to demonstrate a contract of service.”
On the other hand, Ms. Ackroyd was assigned the editorial responsibility from the BBC. According to her contract, she was not allowed to work with other companies without her client’s approval. Therefore this seemed to prove that the broadcaster was the arbiter.