Jeremy Paxman is thought to be among 148 BBC presenters channelling their earnings through “personal service companies” — with significant scope to avoid paying full tax. The figure was revealed by the corporation’s chief financial officer at a grilling by MPs from the Public Accounts Committee yesterday.
While the broadcaster claim the companies are standard industry practice, Paxman’s firm Out In The Dark Ltd was incorporated on 28 May 2009 — 20 years after he started presenting Newsnight but barely one month after Labour chancellor Alistair Darling introduced a 50 pence top rate of tax. A swathe of companies associated with BBC talent were established around this time, with insiders indicating that the corporation had advised them to do so.
When Tory MP Richard Bacon previously suggested on Newsnight that some people at the BBC were using service companies, Paxman responded:
“Quite possible … errr … I don’t know who.”
Food for thought next time Paxo is grilling someone on their financial affairs.