by Graham Pierrepoint
The past week has not been a particularly good one tax-wise for several public figures – not least Donald Trump, whose Presidential campaign has faced further setbacks as a result of fresh claims that his accountancy methods may have resulted in his avoiding paying the correct amount of tax for several years. While this may be occurring in the US, a whole different ball game is unfolding in the UK, where it appears that the HMRC – responsible for the taxation of all working people in the country – have launched an investigation into the tax payments of over a hundred presenting staff at the BBC. With so many implicated by potential issues, what could be the cause for such concern?
It appears that the investigation has been raised as a result of certain staff incorrectly listing themselves as ‘self-employed’ between 2006 and 2013 – and while the BBC moved several staff to contracts in recent history, the news that there may be unaccounted taxes for several of its workers indicates that many stars may now face having to pay additional fees backdated for seven years. This will come as a huge blow to many, particularly as there is currently no suggestion that any intentional avoidance took place. However, the HMRC are clear on how registration for employment should occur – and if tax or national insurance remain unpaid or underpaid for a certain period, it will be due back to them in total – with additional fines even applying under some circumstances. As the investigation is in its infancy, it’s not clear whether any additional penalties will be applied to those who fall under the underpayment umbrella.
The HMRC indicated to The Guardian that employment status is not a choice, and that it will actively reflect the role they take on with whichever firm they are assigned to – and that rules are in place to ensure that the correct amount of taxation and national insurance requirements are applied in each individual case. It is early days for the investigation, however, it may come as a blow to the BBC as well as the stars that could be affected – and it is not currently clear as to who will be to blame for underpaid tax, nor how much is genuinely due. The golden rule for paying tax – for self-employed or otherwise – is to make sure you do so – and it will remain to be seen just how much the HMRC expect back from the corporation’s employees.