The BBC has been accused of not “absolutely untangling” the “mess” over some presenters’ tax affairs.
The chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier MP, stated some freelancers had been left in “determined circumstances”.
Her feedback come because the spending watchdog, the Nationwide Audit Workplace, revealed a report into the BBC’s preparations with its freelance workers.
It discovered 800 BBC presenters might doubtlessly be requested to repay tax.
Some presenters’ unpaid tax payments from HMRC run into hundreds of kilos.
And HMRC is at the moment investigating round 100 BBC freelance workers, the report stated.
The BBC stated it “recognises there are nonetheless points to handle and stay dedicated to resolving them”.
What’s the controversy about?
The BBC hires hundreds of freelancers: in 2017-18 it employed 60,000 together with actors, entertainers and off-air staff.
A number of the freelancers it hires function as a “private service firm”. This implies the particular person is self-employed, relatively than being employed onto the BBC’s payroll. It’s authorized and is widespread throughout the media trade.
Earlier than April 2017, any freelancer working for the BBC as a PSC needed to inform HMRC of their employment standing for tax functions – similar to self-employed or employed – guaranteeing they’d pay the correct quantity of tax.
However after April 2017, a change within the regulation meant it was as much as public our bodies just like the BBC to develop into chargeable for figuring out the employment standing of PSCs it employed.
In 2017, the BBC began utilizing a brand new HMRC instrument to evaluate the employment standing of its freelancers. This began giving completely different outcomes. Earlier than, the vast majority of on-air freelancers have been classed as self-employed however with the brand new instrument they have been classed as employed.
In March this 12 months, a bunch of 170 presenters wrote an open letter expressing dissatisfaction with how the BBC dealt with the adjustments.
Questions have been additionally raised throughout a parliamentary choose committee in April this 12 months about how the BBC used PSCs.
- Ex-BBC presenter going through £420okay tax invoice
What did the watchdog discover?
Based on the NAO, the BBC has taken steps to assist the affected people.
It stated the BBC beforehand introduced its plan to arrange an unbiased mediation course of for presenters who have been employed by means of PSCs and who now imagine the BBC bears some accountability for the HMRC’s calls for.
However the report stated points regarding the BBC’s relationship with its freelancers stay “unresolved and should have monetary implications for the company”.
It stated that between April and September 2017, the BBC paid £8.three million of tax (prematurely) to HMRC to keep away from any penalty fees for not paying tax that was doubtlessly due. It has not absolutely recouped the cash but.
What has Meg Hillier stated?
Meg Hillier MP, who chairs the Committee of Public Accounts – the group of MPs in control of scrutinising public spending – stated extra wanted to be completed to make sure certainty for freelancers working for the BBC .
“The Public Accounts Committee raised considerations in regards to the BBC’s use of non-public service corporations six years in the past,” she stated.
“It’s worrying that, six years on, the mess of clarifying the employment standing for tax functions of individuals the BBC hires by means of PSCs has not been absolutely untangled.
“With round 100 investigations into PSCs nonetheless excellent, the BBC and HMRC should work collectively to make sure certainty for freelancers working for the BBC.
“Significantly for these freelancers who’ve been left in determined circumstances.”
What have the BBC and HMRC stated?
A HMRC spokesman stated: “Presenters at the moment are more and more paying the fitting tax and most do.
“The place presenters haven’t paid the correct quantity of tax it’s proper that we implement the regulation so individuals are handled equally and pretty.”
The BBC has approached HMRC to debate the potential of another method to resolving instances.
A BBC spokesman stated: “Because the NAO recognises, private service corporations are a reliable means of contracting for providers utilized by many throughout the media trade.
“Nonetheless, figuring out whether or not a person is employed for tax functions is complicated and in managing this we’ve got all the time sought to steadiness the pursuits of our workforce and the licence price payer.
“We recognise there are nonetheless points to handle and stay dedicated to resolving them. We’re at the moment in discussions with our presenters and are actively engaged with HMRC to discover the choices for decision.”