HMRC is pursuing former England football star and TV presenter, Gary Lineker, with a tax bill of £4.9million under the IR35 regulations.
The tax watchdog claims Lineker owed £3,621,735.90 in Income Tax and £1,307,160.46 in National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for work undertaken between 2013 to 2018.
The ex-England striker was contracted by the BBC to host Match of the Day and by BT Sport to cover the Champion’s League through his company – Gary Lineker Media (GLM) – which he set up with his ex-wife Danielle Buxton in 2012.
HMRC argues that Lineker’s contracts with both the BBC and BT Sport were one of employer and employee and fell inside the scope of IR35. The tax authority is therefore of the opinion that he should be liable for Income Tax and NICs.
According to The Telegraph, due to Lineker’s company being a partnership, if the pundit loses his appeal, he will not have to pay the full £4.9m in tax, with tax already paid during the period being offset against it. The true figure is thought to be under £1m.
Lineker has been disputing the bill for over a year, but the case came to the fore in documents relating to his appeal at a tribunal last week. He is the latest star to be hit with a high tax bill under the IR35 legislation, which was recently reformed.
Seb Maley, CEO at Qdos, said that while this is not the first time HMRC has pursued a high-profile TV presenter and “nor will it be the last”, the “irony is that Gary Lineker may have been told by the BBC to work through a limited company.”
“It might not have been his choice, as was the case with several other BBC freelancers who HMRC have targeted in recent years,” he explained.
Maley also had little faith in HMRC’s grasp of IR35: “HMRC’s understanding of the IR35 rules and their track record in tribunals leaves a lot to be desired.
“So I wouldn’t be too surprised if it’s found that Lineker is genuinely self-employed and HMRC have got things wrong yet again.”
Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at self-employment trade body IPSE, added that Lineker was “targeted because of the needlessly and damagingly complex IR35 rules.”
He said: “The problem here is not that Lineker has done something wrong, or that HMRC are trying to enforce tax legislation – it is the rules themselves. They are so complex and so open to interpretation that no one understands them, even HMRC, which is why they so frequently lose at tribunal.
“The recent changes to the off-payroll rules, which have been hugely controversial and costly for business, have done nothing to address this central and critical flaw.”
Lineker’s agent, Jon Holmes, told the Telegraph: “GLM is a partnership in which Danielle Bux was a minority partner. He has paid all personal tax. The amount [owed] is notional and disputed. Gary remains a self-employed contractor for several organisations.”