Lorraine Kelly has won a dispute over a £1.2 million tax bill after a judge ruled she was a freelance theatrical artist and not an employee of ITV.
The 59-year-old was sent the substantial tax bill, made up on national insurance and income tax, in 2016, with HMRC claiming she was effectively an employee of ITV.
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The case centres around a contract Kelly signed in 2012 to front her morning breakfast TV show Lorraine and Daybreak, the ITV morning show which relaunched as Good Morning Britain in 2014.
Judge Jennifer Dean ruled in Kelly’s favour, stating the relationship she had with ITV “was a contract for services and not that of employer and employee” and that therefore she was a “self-employed star.”
Being classed as self-employed rather than employed by ITV means that Kelly is subject to different tax obligations.
The ruling explained that “Ms Kelly is not tied to ITV in the same way that an employee might be. She has worked and continues to work for other broadcasters.
“Ms Kelly is not an intrinsic part of the ITV organisation and can provide services to rival broadcasters and other media outlets.”
It was also highlighted that Kelly chooses to take time off on her own terms and “on paper and in reality, it is Ms Kelly who is in control, not ITV.”
Furthermore, because Kelly was viewed as a “theatrical artist” by the court, ‘performing’ her chatty TV persona, any payments made to an agent could be claimed as a tax deductible expense.
The case details how Kelly’s performance is “undoubtedly theatrical” and “Ms Kelly’s sketches are all clear examples of being an entertainer over and above the more regular ‘informal chatting’.”
Judge Dean said, “We did not accept that Ms Kelly simply appeared as herself – we were satisfied that Ms Kelly presents a persona of herself, she presents herself as a brand and that is the brand ITV sought when engaging her.
“All parts of the show are a performance, the act being to perform the role of a friendly, chatty and fun personality.
“Quite simply put, the programmes are entertaining, Ms Kelly is entertaining and the ‘DNA’ referred to is the personality, performance, the ‘Lorraine Kelly’ brand that is brought to the programmes.”
Judge Dean added, “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.”