BBC presenter Christa Ackroyd lodges IR35 appeal

Christa Ackroyd has moved to appeal her IR35 case, almost a year after a tribunal found the company-using presenter ‘effectively had a full-time job’ at the BBC, and so was inside the rule.

In an online update to its listings, the Upper Tribunal shows that ‘Christa Ackroyd V HMRC’ is now pending, although a case file number – UT/2018/0082 – has already been issued.

The Look North presenter will be represented by Jolyon Maugham, QC, who has previously been critical of the BBC, saying it profited from her PSC set-up, which lasted for the six years from 2006.

The barrister subsequently used an appearance to the DCMS Select Committee to pick apart BBC statements on its limited company usage.

Mr Maugham will soon table two potential grounds of appeal to the UT on behalf of Ms Ackroyd, who in September 2017 was hit with a £419,000 employment tax bill for her BBC PSC work.

The first is reportedly a ‘Personal Service’ argument, of sorts – specifically that in reality, the BBC was contracting with the presenter directly, so the Intermediaries legislation cannot be in play.

The second is related to ‘Control,’ indicating the QC may argue that being bound by the BBC’s editorial guidelines, as the TV news host was, did not make her tantamount to an employee.

Disclosed by the Times, the potential grounds of appeal represent two of the three areas which IR35 experts have told FreelanceUK that Ms Ackroyd made ‘no [substantive] argument’ on to the First Tier Tribunal.

The third remaining one, Mutuality of Obligation, may be a moot point if the UT is swayed by HMRC's submission in July that MOO is always present, or “necessary”, simply for a contract to exist.

But IR35 status specialists Qdos have said there were “many” additional pointers to Ms Ackroyd being akin to a BBC employee. And another IR35 advisory has described those factual pointers as ‘strong’.

On Twitter this week, however, Mr Maugham implied he felt confident of his client’s chances of success and implied others sharing her working practices could, in turn; be affected.

“Are there serious problems ahead for employers who have used personal service companies to shield themselves from tax liabilities?” he asked, citing the Times’ article. “I believe so.”

Upper Tribunal appellants usually learn their case’s outcome within three months of the hearing, and typically pay the other party’s costs if they lose but the other party is asked to pay their costs if they win.

 

12th September 2018

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