Equity creates a scene over taxman’s demands on performers

UK News | Published:

Union head Christine Payne raised concerns after actor Robert Glenister ended up on the losing side of a tribunal.

Performers are being unfairly pursued for National Insurance contributions, according to a showbusiness union.

Equity bosses say they fear the taxman is conducting a “co-ordinated attack”.

Bosses at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) say decisions are “dictated by the facts”.

Equity general secretary Christine Payne has raised concern after actor Robert Glenister ended up on the losing side of a recent tax tribunal fight.

“We are gravely concerned that HMRC is conducting a co-ordinated attack against our members,” she said.

“Instead of being celebrated for their contribution to the local culture and global reputation of the UK, these self-employed professionals are being pursued for National Insurance contributions, including paying for employers’ secondary contributions.”

She added: “Whilst HMRC has accepted that this is not an issue of income tax avoidance, they nonetheless now stand ready to unleash their tax officials on our members.”


Bosses at HMRC said they welcomed the Glenister decision.

“The rules on employment status are the same for everyone,” said an HMRC spokesman.

“It is never a matter of choice.”

He added: “It is always dictated by the facts and when the wrong tax is being paid we put things right.”


Lawyers representing a company Glenister used to provide “services to clients” complained about a demand for National Insurance contributions made by HMRC.

Tax officials said arrangements entered into between Big Bad Wolff Ltd, Glenister – who starred in the television series Hustle – and clients made Big Bad Wolff liable for national insurance contributions.

Big Bad Wolff challenged that decision at a specialist tax tribunal.

In 2017, a judge had ruled against Big Bad Wolff after a tribunal hearing and the company recently lost an appeal.

Two appeal judges, Mr Justice Henry Carr and Judge Jonathan Richards, dismissed Big Bad Wolff’s appeal in a written ruling published following an appeal tribunal hearing in London in March.

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