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Eamonn Holmes defeated in IR35 tax tribunal

‘This Morning’ presenter loses IR35 tax tribunal

Renowned TV and radio presenter, Eamonn Holmes, has lost an IR35 tax tribunal despite having spent some forty years working as a freelance broadcaster. The presenter of This Morning was contesting HMRC’s view that contracts held in the 2011/12 and 2014/15 tax years between his company, ‘Red, White and Green Limited’ and ITV belonged inside IR35. 

According to reports, the amount of tax he will be expected to repay to HMRC is in the region of £250,000. At this stage, it is not known if the ruling will be appealed by Holmes, who is apparently to first consult with lawyers to understand this decision.

In reaction to HMRC’s victory, the presenter’s spokesperson said: “Eamonn has always considered himself a self-employed freelancer and has never knowingly avoided paying taxes. He is taking the time to understand the extensive document detailing the outcome. Like many people across the country and from many different professions, he is seeking to comprehend what this means; and simply wishes for clarity and consistency across the guidelines so that people don’t suffer the same confusion over these retrospective IR35 rulings.”

MoO and Control pivotal

As stated by Contractor Calculator, the presence of Mutuality of Obligation (MoO) in the engagements played an important role in HMRC’s victory. As did the fact that Holmes worked under the control of ITV, despite having “considerable autonomy” when delivering his services. Tribunal Judge Harriet Morgan explained there was “at least a sufficient framework of control to place the assumed relationship between ITV and Mr Holmes in the employment field.”

Commenting on the verdict, Contractor Calculator’s Dave Chaplin said the ambiguity of the IR35 legislation was at fault, not Eamonn Holmes or ITV: “This is not a case of tax avoidance, and not the kind of situation which the IR35 legislation was brought in to combat, 20 years ago. In my view neither Holmes nor ITV share any blame here – the fault lies with an unworkable piece of legislation that no-one properly understands.”

Result “cruel” given reform weeks away

Also touched on was the “cruel” timing of the result, which comes less than two months before controversial IR35 reform is extended to the private sector. Chaplin explained that “had he (Holmes) been investigated under the new rules, due to take effect in April 2020, he would not owe HMRC any money at all.”

Holmes v HMRC was “not a typical case”

Albeit concerning, this high-profile win for HMRC must not scare private sector firms into needlessly placing contractors inside IR35, stated Qdos CEO, Seb Maley: “Mr Holmes’ contract with ITV will have been quite different from the vast majority of contractor engagements. With this in mind, contractors, agencies and private sector firms that make well-informed decisions regarding status should not be deterred from engaging in outside IR35 arrangements.”

A sign of things to come?

Eamonn Holmes is not the first well-known freelance presenter to have been targeted by HMRC. After investigating Christa Ackroyd, Lorraine Kelly, Talksport’s Paul Hawksbee and several others, it is now “no secret that HMRC is pursuing high-profile cases ahead of changes to the rules in the private sector”, said Qdos CEO, Maley, who also added: “Having already failed to win IR35 tribunals against Lorraine Kelly and Talksport’s Paul Hawksbee in the past year, the tax office still has difficulty interpreting the very rules it designed.”

By Contractor Weekly


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6 thoughts on “Eamonn Holmes defeated in IR35 tax tribunal”

  1. HMRCunts

    HMRC are a cancer to society.
    The Gestapo finance wing are a particularly pernicious department. Faceless individuals, cowards who hide behind letters and anonymity who act above the law with impunity and are largely unregulated. They do what they please, change laws retrospectively to suit their agenda and all at her majesty’s pleasure!
    This latest farce is all about targeting the large corps into frightening them away from hiring freelancers/contrators so with the new ir35 legislation almost upon us ….. job done. They crave the high publicity of winning these high profile cases. Fear is a wonderful weapon! They don’t necessarily care about those individuals on lower profit bands, retiring or leaving the UK. Their sole purpose in life is to bleed as much cash from decent ordinary people as they can get away with and fill the governments coffers. The old Roman empire was less corrupt!
    The net result is they will bring in less revenue through tax as less people will contribute as they leave the freelance sector but government departments have never been very bright in what they do !

  2. IR35 Survivor

    £250,000 is a lot of money.


    He can claim the VAT back and repay it to ITV, as he was an employee.

    Holiday pay
    Pension contributions
    Sick pay
    He must be able to claim tax back as I am sure if he had been aware he would have dumped everything over the 40% threshold into his pension.

    Now he is an employee he has rights.

  3. Phil the Pill

    Do these Tribunals actually look at the amount of Tax from all sources actually paid in the period in question by the person on “trial” rather than just assume they have avoided paying Employer & Employee NI. If the £250,000 relates solely to NI then Mr. Holmes, assuming his Ltd. company has paid CT, should now be looking to claw back CT retrospectively as he would have been overstating profits to the tune of this amount, so he should get back +/-£47,500. Recently had to do a similar reclaim as I had incorrectly claimed Employment NI relief for a 3 year period. In any event no doubt Mr. Holmes will have spent a lot of the £250K generating up to £20K in VAT income to HMRC, and of course dividend tax, income tax at the higher level etc etc. So by the time you take account of the time spent on this show trial and legal costs it no doubt runs to a loss for HMRC.

  4. Angela

    Whats the difference between Lorraine Kelly and Eamonn Holmes. They both are the main presents on an ITV show, they both work through their own Ltd Co. Yet one of them is deemed inside IR35 and the other outside IR35. Both situations seem identical. Can anyone clarify ?

  5. Milo

    HMRC will ignore all logic…industry experts and carry on regardless.
    There is no alternative so they can sit in their ivory tower and do what ever they want.
    As a contractor who has stuck to the rules of IR35, not working anywhere past 2 years, own website, multiple customers, substitution clauses, not claiming for anything personal (Holidays, mail, lunch, coffee, stamps etc)…yet HMRC are painting us all as tax avoiders.

    The biggest kick in the crotch is all these “independent reviews” and the muppets leading the charge are public speakers/haters against contractors…it cannot be more biased yet its ignored as they simply don’t care.

    I am actively seeking companies without a UK presence to work remote, specifically to stop pumping money into the broken machine…and….as so adequately put by other comments, a nest of vipers.

    To close with a show of their sheer ignorance, if they think they will NET £3.1bn from these reforms after the chaos they are going to cause, they are so out of touch with the current Market they have to be smoking crack

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