U.K. tax man visits talent, agents

New ruling calls for 'theatrical entertainment' in TV anchors

If British news anchors start cracking jokes in the middle of their newscasts, blame U.K. tax commissioner Howard Nolan.

In an effort to recoup $178 million in unpaid taxes, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs is clamping down on U.K. talent and their agents. In a landmark ruling last week, Nolan decreed only TV presenters who deliver “theatrical entertainment” can write off their agents’ fees.

In a test case brought by the Revenue,Nolan ruled that ayem hosts Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan should be eligible to receive tax deductions on their agents’ fees because they are “theatrical artists.”

The taxman had disallowed the husband-and-wife team’s tax deductions on agents’ fees they had claimed while hosting ITV’s “This Morning” between 1993 and 2001.

But the June 9 ruling does not apply to all.

Nolan described combative BBC news presenter Jeremy Paxman — nicknamed the Rottweiler — as “not a theatrical performer,” even though many find his acerbic wit and relentless questioning of politicians on “Newsnight” entertaining.

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