Lorraine Kelly has won a row over a £1.2bn tax bill, after a judge ruled she was not employed by ITV, but performs as her “chatty” TV persona.
Kelly, 59, who presents the show Lorraine on weekday mornings, received the national insurance and income tax bill from the tax office in 2016.
HMRC claimed the Scottish broadcaster was an ITV employee, but she said she was a freelancer.
The judge ruled in Kelly’s favour that she was a “self-employed star”.
The case centres on a contract that Kelly signed in 2012 – through a company she runs with her husband – to present Lorraine, as well as her former show Daybreak which ended in 2014 when Good Morning Britain was relaunched.
Four years later, she was sent a bill of nearly £900,000 in income tax and more than £300,000 in national insurance contributions.
Kelly appealed against tax authority HMRC, and the case was heard by the first-tier tax tribunal.
What did the judge say in her ruling?
Judge Jennifer Dean ruled that the relationship that Kelly had with ITV “was a contract for services and not that of employer and employee”.
The tribunal found that Kelly did not receive staff benefits such as holiday or sick pay and was allowed to carry out other work.
The judge said that Kelly could be classed as a “theatrical artist”, which would mean any payments to an agent would be allowed as a tax-deductible expense.
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.”
She 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.”
Who is Lorraine Kelly?
Kelly – who this year marked her 35th anniversary working in television – has been described as the queen of the breakfast TV sofa.
The Glasgow-born broadcaster began her career at a local newspaper before joining BBC Scotland.
In 1984 she landed her dream job as the roving Scotland correspondent for ITV’s breakfast television franchise TV-am.
She went on to host GMTV and Daybreak, before her current slot on eponymous show Lorraine.
In 2012, she was included on the New Year’s Honours List, and was appointed an OBE for services to charity and the armed forces.
She has been involved with many charities and took part in the 100km (62 miles) BT Red Nose Desert Trek in Kenya, which raised money for Comic Relief projects.
How has the tax office reacted?
A spokesman for HMRC said it was “disappointed” with the ruling.
“We will carefully consider the outcome of the tribunal before deciding whether to appeal,” he said.
Someone’s employment status – meaning whether they are classed as an employee or self-employed – determines how much tax they pay.
The tax affairs of freelance presenters working at the BBC have also made headlines, after some presenters faced big tax bills after being given no choice about changes to the way they were employed.
Earlier this year, director general Tony Hall apologised to the presenters affected and said the BBC aimed to get the issue sorted with HMRC.