BBC could cover tax bills for staff investigated by HMRC after pay change

Some staff were left owing huge sums.

The BBC may cover tax costs for presenters left in financial trouble after they were “forced” into new pay arrangements.

Director general Lord Tony Hall admitted in January that some staff had been previously pushed into entering an outside pay scheme with the BBC which left them with huge tax bills.

The personal service company (PSC) arrangements left some employees owing six-figure sums to HMRC while losing out on benefits such as sick and maternity pay.

The BBC had a policy of requiring certain freelance TV presenters to be engaged through a PSC for a period until 2013, when it began using a new test to assess people’s employment status.

New measures have been put in place by the BBC to help staff left in debt or under HMRC investigation following the pay changes.

The broadcaster has announced it may look at an overall settlement of tax owed, or cover the costs for presenters being investigated.

A statement from the broadcaster said: “For some time, we have been working with our presenters and HMRC to try to resolve these issues.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
BBC director-general Tony Hall gives evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (PA)

“We fully understand and regret the stress this has put people under. We want to find an effective way to put this right as quickly as possible.”

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee heard evidence on the impact of the PSC pay changes, with household names reportedly affected by the switch, which was said to have saved the BBC around £10 million in National Insurance contributions.

Responsibility for these was shifted from the broadcaster to the talents being paid as outside companies.

The statement from the BBC added: “We continue to try to seek an overall settlement with HMRC to provide certainty about the tax treatment of BBC fees paid to presenters.

“We have put in place a set of principles we intend to use to ensure fairness and consistency in how we calculate our contribution to any outstanding amounts sought by HMRC.

“These would apply either to an overall settlement with HMRC or resolving individual cases where presenters are being investigated.”

The BBC has also said support and advice is available for those who have been impacted by the changes.

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