ITV gives more than £40 million to its ‘Golden Four’ Phillip Schofield, Holly Willoughby and Ant and Dec to save them huge tax bills
- They all renegotiated big money deals ahead of changes to HMRC’s policy
- It means that employees are unable to be paid as a freelancer in future
- A source said ‘there is some bitterness they are being given special treatment’
ITV has handed lucrative new contracts to top presenters dubbed ‘The Golden Four’ that ensure their pay packets aren’t affected when fresh tax rules start next month.
This Morning’s Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby have renegotiated deals ahead of a revised HMRC policy that stops employees being paid as a freelancer if they are conducting regular work.
Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, both 44, are also understood to have a signed a new golden handcuffs deal with ITV which is worth in the region of £40 million over three years following interest from streaming giant Amazon.
‘The Golden Four:’ This Morning’s Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby are being offered the bumper pay deals
There is no suggestion that any of the four stars have not been paying the correct tax previously.
From April 1, new regulations will end the so-called IR35 employment status that allowed anyone to describe themselves as a freelancer when they have regular work with an organisation.
It is understood Miss Willoughby, 39, and Schofield, 57, are now earning close to £1 million a year – up about a quarter from their current £750,000 annual salaries.
Ant and Dec, who front Britain’s Got Talent, I’m A Celebrity and also own the rights to Saturday Night Takeaway, now earn £10 million more than the £30 million deal they reportedly struck in 2016.
In the money: Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have also hammered out a golden handcuffs deal
However, their pay rises have prompted fury from other ITV stars. One source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There is a lot of anger, Holly, Phil, Ant and Dec are described as the Golden Four and that isn’t in a nice way.
‘There is some bitterness that they are being given special treatment because they are the biggest stars.
‘They are seen as the favourites, while there has been a feeling that everyone else has been left to deal with things themselves.
‘The whole tax issue that has been going on at ITV over the past couple of years has caused a lot of people a lot of grief.’
In 2018, The Mail on Sunday revealed how This Morning host Eamonn Holmes, 60, was at the centre of HMRC claims he owed tax stretching back seven years because he was receiving a freelance salary that cut his tax rate to 19 per cent.
At the time, he said: ‘I am the test case, if they win against me, they will go after everyone else, everyone.’ Last month it emerged he had to pay back £250,000.
However, Lorraine Kelly, 60, who fronts her own ITV breakfast show, won a £1.2 million battle with HMRC after a judge ruled she was a ‘theatrical artist’ and not an ITV employee.
It is understood many ITV stars are struggling to pay back tax after paying themselves through their businesses for over a decade.
An ITV spokesman declined to comment.