The show must go on: HMRC publishes IR35 guidance for Actors and other Performers

As we begin to find our feet in this ‘new normal’, I thought it was high time I resumed my Payroll
Unplugged blog. Of course, the past nearly six months (it definitely feels longer!) have been far from
a hiatus of sorts, but, and what I hope is a welcome relief to you all, today’s blog isn’t dedicated to
the dreaded C word that has been dominating our lives!

Whilst payroll functions all over the country and indeed the world have been firmly plugged into
businesses, guiding employers through the myriad of guidance and procedures such as the
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, previously key policies were put on hold earlier this year. This
includes the extension of the off-payroll IR35 reforms to the private sector. It’s worth noting though
that despite much lobbying during the committee stages of the Finance Act, it’s clear there is little
appetite for a U-turn on this topic; the new IR35 rules embedded in Finance Act 2020 are set to take
effect from 6 April 2021. The Treasury have said that any further delay would be a ‘serious mistake’
and estimates many millions lost in tax revenue every year. I’d therefore encourage all private sector
employers to plan for this to commence from next Spring and to keep this in mind in relation to any
relevant contracts entered into between now and then.

Despite resources being diverted to COVID-19, HMRC have been actively engaging with the film and
tv industry in particular where there are significant numbers of freelancers behind and in front of
camera. Ceri Stoner, Partner at Wiggin the specialist media lawyers, writes that ‘stakeholders in the
sector have continued to work with the Treasury to update the media specific guidance in order to
provide greater clarity on HMRC’s view of the employment status of certain roles’. One of the areas
of particular focus has been actors and other performers. Following a lengthy consultation period,
HMRC have now published updated guidance to help ‘actors and other performers, as well as their
engagers, get their tax right and promote a better understanding of how employment status in the
industry affects tax’. HMRC’s press release makes it clear that they ‘worked collaboratively with
Equity and other representative bodies and engagers to produce this guidance in the interests of
transparency and clarity at what is of course an incredibly worrying time for everyone who makes
their living in live entertainment’. This guidance has now been published as part of HMRC’s
Employment Status Manual; you can find more information about this using the links below.
The updated guidance has been welcomed by both the payroll and film and tv industry after months
of uncertainty. Now comes the challenge of nailing down the blueprint for other professionals
impacted by the new off-payroll working rules, finalising the legislation, communicating effectively
and of course employers and agents having to actually implement the changes and prepare for April
2021. All while continuing to firefight in a pandemic and plan for a post-Covid world. One thing is for
certain, it’s never a quiet day!

IR35 guidance for Actors and Other Performers