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Confused about employee or "freelance" status?

Simon Lewis

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Try this Check Employment status for Tax


Half the time, though it comes back with 'Please Ring us as we can't quite figure it out'


We use the following 'indicators of Self Employment' after advice from our Tax people. This makes sure we aren't using 'disguised employment' for our Visiting Professionals


- No expectation of further work at the end of the engagement


- Termination at any time by either side (Alternative arrangements to be in place except in the case of Gross Misconduct etc)


- No eligibility to sick, holiday, maternity/paternity pay


- No entitlement to pension


- No overtime (Fee only engagements although we stick to Equity minimums etc)


- You must provide equipment to fulfill your specialist service (generally meaning this means the equipment needed to provide a design, for instance, not the set/rig. A laptop, a scale rule and so on)


- You must have Public Liability Insurance either personally or via a trade association or organisation (Easily the most contentious, Agents hate it and often argue. I've been a bit of a recruiter for Equity since we brought this in)


If anyone wants a look at our Provision of Services Agreement, which all this is held in let me know. As we are a drama school, there is a lot of extra stuff those in the industry don't need.



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It is very unwise indeed to rely on media reports of these judgements. They are available via the Tribunals Service and are usually quite readable. Importantly here this is a First Tier Tribunal and it is quite possible that HMRC will appeal to the Upper Tier where the decision may well be reversed. (This happened in the VAT treatment of some market pitches.) Similarly each such decision is merely indicative and can't be automatically relied on in other similar cases.
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Pretty well all the celebrities do this - present a 'brand', so in a way it legitimises what most of them already do - run their business through a Ltd company. These cases always seem to set precedents of one status or another - the camera folk who work for the BBC exist on having a Lorimer letter - issued by HMRC that legitimises their self-employed status, and you cannot work for the BBC's camera department without one. I tried to get one, but the criteria are so tight that in effect, you need to have worked for the BBC in that role a number of times. If you have not, you cannot meet the criteria and cannot work as a self-employed person for the BBC, You will be taxed and NI'd like it or not. The Lorrimer in the name is another of the test cases where it was decided.


This was the easy bit of the process

Can you please let me know the following?



1. Provide your full name and address


2. If applicable please provide the name and address of your Personal Service Company.


3. Provide your national insurance number and UTR


4. What is your job title?


5. Full details of the expenditure incurred in organising and obtaining your work.



6. Explain how your work is obtained, i.e. do you advertise, or rely on word of mouth?



7. Have you ever used an agent or agency to obtain work? If so, please provide details.


8. Do you have an office? If so, where is it situated, what equipment is contained within it and what work do you do in the office?


9. Confirm whether you have any of the following:-

a. a business bank account

b. a business telephone

c. insurance against ill health or accident (give details of the cover and premiums)

d. third party liability cover, please give details of the premium

e. a personal pension or retirement annuity scheme

f. a VAT registration number


10. Do you have secretarial services provided? If so please provide details.


11. Do you have any staff that can assist you in your work? If so, are they hired or paid directly by you?


12. Have you ever been able to provide and pay a substitute to undertake work for which you had been contracted? If so, provide details of the circumstances when this occurred.


13. Are you a union member and, if so, do union rates form any part of the contract?


14. Do you tender for jobs with each being separately negotiated?


15. Have you ever suffered a bad debt? If so, please provide full details.


16. If you are obliged by the terms of your engagement to provide equipment for your own exclusive use, please provide a list of this equipment, including the value of each item.



Please provide any other details you wish me to consider.

This was fine - but there is a spreadsheet for detailing your work. This wants a years work listing with specific run times - the text of the letter explaining the requirements is below - and as I had only 4 single days worth of TV work, I didn't;t follow through - although it does say the actual work doesn't have to be in that area, so maybe for the future?.



You haven’t stated the grade/job title under which you would be working for the BBC.


The reason I mention this is that we provide a list of grades/job titles to the production companies where we automatically accept that workers in those grades/job titles are self-employed where they meet the criteria associated with that grade/job title.


All grades/job titles not on the list (or where they are but the associated criteria are not met) are not automatically self-employed. In those circumstances the engager is responsible for determining the employment status of the worker concerned.


Following a High Court case in 1993 we also provide confirmation of self-employment for behind-camera workers (whose grade/job title is not on the list) who fulfil the two criteria established by the court case.


These are that the worker works multiple short-term engagements for a variety of engagers (in this context short-term means contracts of less than 10 days) and obtains and manages the work through a business set-up. The latter point means, in effect, that the worker can demonstrate that they incur substantial financial risk seeking work and managing the work they obtain and, if


Once the criteria have been met we issue a Letter of Authority confirming to production companies that the worker providing the Letter is self-employed. The Letter is often known as a Lorimer letter or an LP10 letter.


Without the Letter the production companies should pay the worker through the payroll unless they take the decision themselves that the worker is self-employed for that engagement.


In order to apply for a letter of authority, can you complete and return the attached questionnaire and stencil. The period required for the stencil is 18 May 2017 to 17 May 2018 and should list every separate engagement in date order, ensuring the grade (job title) for each engagement is completed.


Please note we will not normally consider an application for a letter of authority unless you can demonstrate multiple short term contracts of 10 days or less over a 12 month period. This is not the only deciding factor and we would normally expect you to also be able to demonstrate that you have a business structure in place which would show there was some financial risk and/or provision of substantial equipment (other than what HMRC consider to be tools of the trade).


If you consider this to be the case please post the completed form to the address below or email it to a.filmproductionunitmailbox@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk (please note any information returned via email is at your own risk).


Please note the engagements do not have to be in the film/television industry it is the short-term nature and business set-up that are imprtant not the industry in which the work has been undertaken.


Film & Production Unit

Floor 4

Trinity Bridge House

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I think that check is very biased towards HMRC's wish for everyone to be employed...

whilst the job center is trying to get anyone without a job to become self employed

Osborne cut DWP budgets so IDS transferred over a million unemployed from his DWP budget to the tax credit budget paid for by Osborne's HMRC/Treasury. Politics and lies, what else?

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  • 2 months later...
That's the problem. For some people, certain job roles that meet the above requirements are deemed to be employees? Stage Management are good examples - most are now treated as employees. In TV, unless you have a Lorrimer Letter, the BBC won't treat you as self-employed, even if you are bona fide genuine self-employed person. Daft!
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This is one of the many areas in the tax system that has been polluted by "loopholes". Certain employees of the BBC registered as companies to avoid tax and NI contributions. When their loophole was found by HMRC they decided to introduce even more complex rules to identify between real companies and pseudo companies, the tricky bit being that many prominent government figures also use the same loophole system.


This is why UK tax is so stupidly complex. Because it's an attempt to protect the financial interests of the looting politicians while still targeting the normal working people.


Every year the government employs prominent accountancy firms (at astronomical expense) to create new loopholes for their financial gain while blocking the old ones they created in the first place.


Perhaps the answer is to get rid of the root problem in the first place.....

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I'd argue with the word loophole and replace it with people and organisations 'trying their luck' to save 'ees 'ers and other on costs including employee benefits. The folk who moan about, or maybe I should say are affected most by, tighter definitions of self-employment are those who aren't really self-employed at all according to even the simplest definition of that status. They often really conform to that old hackneyed and now legally pretty meaningless term ' casual labour'. The real villain though, and here I think I do agree with Clive, is the varying approaches to such things over the years by HMRC. What was once a quite relaxed attitude seems to have been replaced by a much firmer regime. Edited by Junior8
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In the case of the BBC, & no doubt lots of other organisations, the high-earners were "encouraged" to set themselves up as service companies to get them "off the books", to cut down on NI & pension contributions.
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The watershed, in my opinion, was the 1965 Finance Act which saw corporate taxation become separated from everything else. Until then business paid income tax at the same rate as everyone else, often up to 85%. CT levels were lower but still worked reasonably until Thatcher changed the "general accounting rules" and handed the country and especially the NHS and civil service, over to the Big Four accounting firms.


It might have worked but for the Big Four being hired to advise HMRC on the very taxes they were charging business to avoid. They introduced so many allowances and set-asides that Mrs May's husband works for a firm that pays him and others millions while never once having made "a profit" or paid a penny tax. It is indeed "socialism for the rich, paid for by the poor".


Yes this is a highly political subject but I think it worth examining some of the history behind how the UK/USA became dysfunctional states with rampant inequality and poverty that even the UN finds unacceptable yet institutionalised.

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