Adrian Chiles spared £500,000 tax bill after winning HMRC court battle

TV presenter Adrian Chiles has been spared hundreds of thousands of pounds in disputed taxes, after winning a seven-year battle with HM Revenue and Customs. 

HMRC claimed the Radio 5 Live presenter was not a freelancer when working for the BBC and ITV between 2012 and 2017, despite Mr Chiles having worked as a contractor through his own limited company since 1996. 

The tax office argued he should have paid more tax as an employee of the broadcasters, where he worked on BBC programmes such as The One Show, Match of the Day 2 and The Apprentice: You’re Fired, as well as on Daybreak and as a football commentator at ITV.

HMRC said Mr Chiles owed £1.2m in income taxes and almost £500,000 in National Insurance.

The case was part of a wider crackdown on “disguised employees” who reduce their tax bills by funneling their income through personal service companies. 

Such arrangements allow an individual to set up a company and pay themselves via a mixture of salary and dividends to save on tax, even if they do not hire any staff. 

Employees pay income tax at 20pc of earnings up to £50,270 and 40pc above, plus NI at 12pc, while contractors typically pay corporation tax at 19pc and lower NI rates of 9pc, while dividends are taxed at rates starting from 7.5pc.

But the television and radio presenter has been spared the extra payments, after a tribunal ruled there was “no suggestion Mr Chiles set out to avoid paying tax” through his company Basic Broadcasting Limited. 

It is thought the decision has saved Mr Chiles £400,000 to £500,000 in extra taxes .

Mr Chiles was among a number of TV stars who have faced questions over the tax arrangements. Fellow Match of the Day presented Gary Lineker is currently being pursued for roughly £5m in allegedly unpaid taxes, it emerged in May. 

A string of famous names have also become the target of similar HMRC investigations, including star of ITV’s This Morning Eamonn Holmes and Sky TV darts presenter David Clark, who were both hit with tax charges in the region of £250,000 last year.  

Dave Chaplin of tax advice firm IR35 Shield said Mr Chiles had been the “victim of a very poorly run investigation by HMRC inspectors”.

He added: “The tax office has put him through the wringer, both mentally and financially, due to the massive costs of having to defend himself, despite always paying his taxes correctly.” 

Despite winning the case, Mr Chiles will still have to pay his own legal fees. 

In 2018 Mr Chiles won praise for shining a light on the health and social issues of repeated social drinking in a documentary called Drinkers Like Me, which focused on his own alcohol habits. 

A spokesman for HMRC said the tax authority would “carefully analyse the outcome of the tribunal before considering next steps”.

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