Veteran TV presenter Eamonn Holmes could be facing a hefty tax bill after losing a case against HMRC over his employment status.
Holmes, who hosts ITV’s This Morning, had argued he was a freelancer as he received payments from the broadcaster through his company Red, White and Green Limited.
However, a judge ruled that the star was employed by ITV and therefore liable to pay taxes under the controversial IR35 rules.
The parties are yet to agree on the total tax due, but sources told the Daily Mail that Holmes could owe as much as £250,000.
Private sector employees are facing increased scrutiny from the taxman under IR35 rules, which are designed to prevent workers from disguising themselves as freelancers in a bid to pay less tax.
In particular, it targets workers who provide services through a limited company, when in practice they are doing the same work as employees.
Holmes argued that he worked on the ITV current affairs show in a freelance capacity, adding that he “controls” the programme. “I am my own creation, I am not anybody’s slave on This Morning,” he said during a hearing.
But Judge Harriet Morgan dismissed the argument that the star was self-employed, stating: “I consider that the overall picture is that the assumed relationships between him and ITV were ones of employment.”
A spokesperson for Holmes said: “Eamonn has always considered himself a self-employed freelancer and has never knowingly avoided paying taxes.”
“He is taking the time to understand the extensive document detailing the outcome,” they told Contractor Calculator, which first reported the verdict.
Other high-profile TV stars have also fallen foul of IR35 rules in recent months, including former BBC Look North presenter Christa Ackroyd.
ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly narrowly avoided a £1.2m bill from HMRC last year after she successfully argued that her “chatty” on-screen persona classed her as a theatrical artist.
Earlier this week chancellor Rishi Sunak vowed that IR35 tax changes would not be “heavy-handed” following criticism from industry bodies that the measures will damage the economy.
HMRC welcomed the judgement in the Holmes case, saying it confirmed it had taken the right approach.
“The tax rules require that employment taxes are paid even where a person works through their own company. HMRC ensures that tax is paid in accordance with those rules,” a spokesperson said.