BBC actor loses IR35-NICs battle with HMRC

Hustle TV star Robert Glenister has lost a 9 year battle with HMRC over unpaid National Insurance contributions totalling £147,000 plus interest.

The dispute centred on the actor’s decision in 2004 to set up Big Bad Wolff Ltd, a personal service company (PSC) that charged for his work as a performer. Tax officials said arrangements entered into between Big Bad Wolff Ltd, Glenister – who starred in the BBC hits Hustle and Spooks – and clients made Big Bad Wolff liable for national insurance contributions.

Being paid through a PSC, rather than as a member of staff on the payroll, has typically enabled celebrities and other contractors who regularly work for just one employer to pay lower rates of tax and National Insurance.

Some employers have favoured this approach because it can also reduce the company’s national insurance bills, but HMRC has become stricter on what it calls ‘disguised employment’.

The TV star said he set up the company in good faith and thinks it is unfair to back-date payments to 2004 when HMRC did not contact him until 2010. He states ‘This isn’t tax avoidance issue’ it’s a compliance issue’. He goes onto say he was advised to set up the company by his then accountant.

HMRC Bosses at HMRC said they welcomed the Glenister decision. “The rules on employment status are the same for everyone,” said an HMRC spokesman.
“It is never a matter of choice.”

He added: “It is always dictated by the facts and when the wrong tax is being paid we put things right.”

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