The upbeat and chatty persona of popular ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly is all an act, which means her agent payments are tax deductible, a tax tribunal has ruled.
Judge Jennifer Dean ruled that the host of the weekday breakfast show Lorraine “presents a persona of herself” on television and could therefore be described as a “theatrical artist”
The judge continued:
“We should make clear we do not doubt that Ms Kelly is an entertaining lady, but the point is that for the time Ms Kelly is contracted to perform live on air she is public ‘Lorraine Kelly’; she may not like the guest she interviews, she may not like the food she eats, she may not like the film she viewed but that is where the performance lies.”
HMRC said the presenter owed a total of £1.2 million, £899,912 in taxes and £312,615 in national insurance contributions (NICs), but the tribunal has ruled in her favour and said she is not liable for the sum.
The decision means that the “actress” is the first to successfully appeal against HMRC’s recent crackdown on the personal services company structures used by a variety of television and radio presenters to sell their services to broadcasters. By saying they are not employees, they claim not to be subject to the same income tax and national insurance contributions.
Beyond the decision on IR35 legislation about personal services companies, Kelly and HMRC also asked the tribunal to determine whether agency fees should be tax deductible in this case. It was in this section that the judge said Kelly’s television shows should not be viewed as current affairs programming, and her upbeat and cheerful persona was her act as a “theatrical artist”. As a result, her agent fees were found to be tax deductible.