Thursday, April 12, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Taxman probes The Apprentice

The producers of the BBC’s show ‘The Apprentice’ have been contacted by both the Inland Revenue and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise with regards to the tax positions of the two companies that represent the teams in the show after claims that the contestants keep the profits they make.

"This series has better contestants and better business tasks than ever before," said Sir Alan Sugar. "We aim to have challenges that truly reflect modern business and challenge the contestants."

It s understood that upcoming episodes of the business based reality programme will show the contestants filing details of their Eclipse and Stealth firms with Companies House and filling in their personal and corporate income tax declarations. In an episode to be aired in three weeks time Eclipse are rumoured to have failed the task set by Sir Alan - despite earning the most money - since they had forgotten to submit their VAT returns.

The changes to the programme have been made after the Inland Revenue and became interested in the profits that the teams have been making during the series. Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise is also said to be keen on details of any VAT incurred on services offered, such as gardening or children’s face painting. The various team leaders are also understood to be taking advice as to their position with regards to National Insurance contributions as employers and all are said to be concerned over the implications of the IR35 legislation.

Sir Alan Sugar was unavailable for comment as to how closely this matches his early business experience but the producers of the programme have denied any changes to the famous catchphrase to reflect the complexity of a contestant’s tax situation – such as "You’re mired".

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