Employers should take on workers’ unpaid tax bills, says MP

An MP has suggested that the employer should be responsible for unpaid tax bills when a worker has been mistakenly or purposely considered self-employed.

Damian Collins, chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, highlighted the recent BBC case at a Press Guild event.

According to reports, more than 100 presenters are currently being investigated by HM Revenue & Customs over the use of personal service companies (PSCs).

Among them is former presenter of the regional Look North programme Christa Ackroyd, who was handed a tax bill of more than £419,000.

It is alleged that the BBC “forced” these workers to come out of employment contracts and work as freelancers instead.

In Ms Ackroyd’s case, a recent tax tribunal accepted that she was following BBC advice when using the company.

Mr Collins said: “If people were compelled by the BBC to work for the BBC through personal service companies, but now are finding themselves liable for hundreds of thousands of pounds of unpaid taxes through no fault of their own – that is a real scandal. That is something we want to look into.”

A BBC spokesman said: “Until last year it was the responsibility of individuals engaged through personal service companies to ensure they paid the correct tax, and it was made clear they should take advice from a professional financial advisor to confirm their self-employed status.”