Kaye Adams defeats HMRC in nine-year tax fight

Loose Women presenter was chased for £124,000 over her work at the BBC

Kay Adams
Kaye Adams, 60, worked for the BBC as a presenter in 2015 and 2016 Credit: Nicky Johnston/ITV

Kaye Adams has beaten the taxman in a nine-year dispute over her earnings as a presenter at the BBC. 

The Loose Women presenter was being chased for £124,000 in income tax and National Insurance contributions after HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) argued that she should have been taxed as an employee for her work at the broadcaster between 2013-2014 and 2016-2017, rather than a self-employed contractor. 

However, a first-tier tax tribunal has upheld the case on appeal, concluding that she was indeed self-employed and was entitled to pay lower rates of National Insurance. 

Kaye Adams, 60, worked for the BBC as a presenter of The Kaye Adams Programme in 2015 and 2016, but her services were not exclusive to the broadcaster. She also appeared on ITV’s Loose Women and as a paper reviewer for Sky TV. 

The case centred around so-called off-payroll working rules – or IR35 – which dictate how workers who provide their services through an intermediary like a limited company are assessed for tax purposes.

If they are deemed “outside IR35”, they will be taxed as a self-employed worker. If they are “inside IR35”, they will be taxed as an employee. Ms Adams was contracted through her limited company, Atholl House Productions Limited.

Other broadcasters including Gary Lineker and Adrian Chiles have also won cases over the controversial IR35 legislation, which Kwasi Kwarteng vowed to scrap during his brief time as chancellor last year. 

But the tax office has won 70pc of employment status and intermediary hearings at tribunal and the Court of Appeal since 2020.

These include cases brought against Red, White and Green Limited – the personal service company of Eamonn Holmes.

This was the fourth tribunal hearing relating to Ms Adams case since HMRC first enquired into her IR35 status in 2014.

The Loose Women presenter had successfully won her appeal at the first-tier tax tribunal only for HMRC to repeatedly appeal the decision, leading to three more hearings.

Ms Adams said: “I am delighted that the [first tribunal] has confirmed my self-employed status for the third time, but there is no jubilation for me in this result. 

“Over the nine years of this investigation, the mental stress has been close to unbearable at times, and the legal costs I have incurred far outweigh the tax at stake.”

She added she had been 51-years-old when this ordeal began and now – at age 60 – she wanted to “to be released from my financial limbo and be able to plan for my future”.

Dave Chaplin, CEO of the tax advisory firm IR35 Shield, who had been supporting Ms Adams with her case, said: “HMRC has relentlessly pursued Ms Adams, using the taxpayers’ purse.

In my view, it was never in doubt that Ms Adams was in business on her own account and not a BBC employee. Multiple judges across multiple hearings have told HMRC that, and HMRC should now leave her alone and reflect on why they got it so repeatedly wrong.”

Seb Maley, of contractor insurance firm Qdos, said: “Time and time again, HMRC contested that Kaye Adams belonged inside IR35. It begs the question – just how much of taxpayers’ money did HMRC waste on chasing a lost cause?”

HMRC now has 56 days to lodge an appeal if it decides to challenge the ruling.

An HMRC spokesman said: “It is our duty to ensure everyone pays the right tax under the law, regardless of wealth or status. We are disappointed in the tribunal’s decision and will consider the judgement before deciding next steps.”