Sky Sports presenter Alan Parry handed £365,000 IR35 bill 

Sky Sports presenter Alan Parry handed £365,000 IR35 bill 

The football commentator lost his IR35 case appeal, leaving him with a staggering tax bill 

Alan Parry, the well-known Sky Sports presenter, has lost a First-Tier Tax Tribunal appeal and faces a backdated IR35 bill amounting to £356,420.37 (comprising £222,474.40 in Income Tax and a further £133,945.97 in National Insurance Contributions).

The tribunal found that, from the 2013/14 to 2018/19 tax years, the relationship between Parry and BSkyB reflected employment, not self-employment, with Mutuality of Obligation (MOO) and Control the determining factors. 

The ruling means that Parry is now liable for just over £356,000 in backdated income tax and NICs. However, in mitigation, the amounts owed by Parry will be offset against the Corporation Tax that he has paid over the tax years in question, reducing his overall liability.

“Contracts held didn’t necessarily reflect the reality of the engagement”

CEO of Qdos Contractor, Seb Maley, suggested that the ruling is the latest warning for contractors, who HMRC continues to target despite the introduction of IR35 reform in 2021:

“Alan Parry is the latest in a long line of high-profile presenters caught up in IR35 cases with huge tax liabilities. It makes you wonder who HMRC will target next. 

“Whichever way you look at it, the £356,000 tax bill handed to Parry is a firm reminder of the importance of IR35 compliance – something that contractors and businesses must prioritise. 

“The contracts held between Parry and Sky didn’t necessarily reflect the reality of the engagement, which HMRC will likely to pay close attention to in the event of an IR35 investigation.”

BSkyB freelance presenters may become target for HMRC

In what may be a worrying development for other freelancers engaged by BSkyB, the lawyer who represented Parry – Chris Leslie of Tax Networks Limited – described BSkyB contracts as “a bit of a problem”, as they follow a similar structure to Parry’s.

Parry’s contract, in particular, “contained ambiguity” Leslie told the Financial Times, which suggested Sky held more control, contractually, than was necessary.

It, therefore, introduced, Mutuality of Obligation (MOO), one of the key considerations when assessing IR35 status. 

This suggests that HMRC may continue to target high-profile presenters whose contracts are similarly structured and may contain equally ambiguous language.

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