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Ministers urged to ‘call Paul and Ringo’ over touring musician tax forms


By PA News

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Ministers have been urged to call surviving Beatles Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr for advice on helping self-employed touring musicians with their tax forms.

The Beatles’ early years playing clubs in the German port city of Hamburg were mentioned as an example of British musicians making a success of European touring, as peers raised concerns about the processing of national insurance certificates artists need to work on the continent.

Crossbench peer the Earl of Clancarty said leading music organisations Live (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) and the Independent Society of Musicians had written to the Treasury with concerns about a backlog in processing of A1 tax forms.

A Beatles publicity postcard written by George Harrison from the Star Club in Hamburg (PA)
A Beatles publicity postcard written by George Harrison from the Star Club in Hamburg (PA)

The documents are used by musicians to confirm they only need to pay UK national insurance contributions when temporarily working in the EU – as well as in Gibraltar, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The Earl warned: “Many musicians and crew are receiving their forms after a tour has ended, meaning that money is withheld, potentially permanently. Ultimately, the Treasury will be the loser.”

Treasury minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton replied: “There has been an improvement, although I accept that it is not good enough — as HMRC also acknowledges — and that more needs to be done.”

Labour peer Lord Grocott later told peers: “I point out that many members of the House still here will, like me, well remember the early days of the Beatles.

“They will remember that the Beatles managed perfectly well in Hamburg for many months, if not years, without any great difficulty. That was before the EU was even thought of.

“Can the Minister consider ways in which we can learn from this by contacting Paul and Ringo to see how they managed that?”

Lady Vere replied: “The Beatles split up the year I was born so I do not have as long a memory as him.

“However, the Government are very focused on developing our emerging artists and ensuring that they can get to new international markets, whether that be in the EU or beyond. The music export growth scheme has been tripled and will now spend £3.2 million over the next two years to support these emerging artists.

“When it comes to music, we are talking about not just the EU but the entire world.”

To protest from other peers, Tory former minister Lord Forsyth of Drumlean then asked: “Does the minister agree that this is not a problem of Brexit but a problem of EU members not being co-operative?”

Lady Vere said she had not expected “a Brexit ding-dong”, but added: “The UK was more ambitious than the EU when it came to negotiating the trade and co-operation agreement (TCA) but some of our proposals were rejected.

“I note that the TCA is reviewed every five years and, while I would not want to comment on the scope of that review, there may be opportunities in the future.”

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