Jeremy Vine pursued by HMRC for alleged unpaid taxes at BBC

Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine is the latest celebrity facing scrutiny from HMRC under the IR35 rules, with the tax authority pursuing him for alleged unpaid taxes incurred while working for the BBC.

Court documents reveal that Vine has been in a dispute with HMRC since 2018 over whether he should have been classified as an employee or a contractor for his work on shows such as Eggheads and Points of View, as well as his coverage of the 2015 general election, between 2013 and 2015. Although the exact amount Vine owes has not been disclosed, experts suggest it could be in the thousands of pounds.

Vine and his legal team attempted to challenge HMRC’s right to pursue the case with a technical argument during a preliminary hearing in June. However, the judge rejected this argument, and the case is now expected to proceed to the First-tier Tribunal.

Vine joins other high-profile broadcasters like Gary Lineker, Adrian Chiles, and Kaye Adams, who have also been embroiled in IR35 cases. Lineker won his £5 million tax case in March, while Chiles’ £1.7 million case, ongoing for a decade, is set for another hearing due to legal errors in a previous ruling. Adams won her case last year after nearly ten years of legal battles, represented by the same barrister defending Vine.

The IR35 rules require workers using intermediaries, such as limited companies, to have their employment status assessed for tax purposes. If deemed contractors, they pay tax as self-employed individuals, often resulting in lower National Insurance contributions. However, if considered employees, they must pay higher employee tax rates.

Introduced by Gordon Brown to tackle “disguised employees” using contractor status to reduce tax bills, the IR35 regime has faced criticism for its complexity and its impact on hiring freelancers and the self-employed sector. During his brief tenure as chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng vowed to scrap the rules.

John Hood of Moore Kingston Smith commented, “IR35 has become notorious for trapping celebrities in its complexities. Even tax professionals struggle to understand how it is supposed to work.”

Previous IR35 cases have often progressed from the First-tier Tribunal to the Upper Tribunal and then to the Court of Appeal, dragging on for several years.

An HMRC spokesman stated, “We appreciate there’s a real person behind every case and are committed to treating all taxpayers with respect. We seek to resolve cases as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, in accordance with the law.”

Jeremy Vine has been approached for comment.