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HMRC to appeal Gary Lineker’s £4.9m IR35 case

IR35 saga continues for the Match of the Day presenter despite his tribunal success

HMRC will appeal its unsuccessful case against Gary Lineker, as it attempts to recoup almost £5m of contested tax revenue.

The former footballer-turned-TV-pundit was subject to lengthy proceedings which were initiated in 2017 and ended in March this year

The case was contested on the grounds that the presenter had incorrectly operated outside of IR35 in contracts with the BBC and BT Sport over several tax years, from 2013 to 2018.

Having failed to win at a First-Tier tax tribunal, HMRC has now launched an appeal. The tax authority had suggested that it was considering doing so and lodged its appeal on 12th June

As such, HMRC will once again attempt to collect the tax which it believes it is owed, though Lineker insists he has paid all the taxes due. 

Issuing a statement on his personal Twitter account after the conclusion of the tribunal earlier this year, Lineker said he was “pleased that the Tribunal has endorsed my contention that I have not failed to pay any taxes or National Insurance by reason of the IR35 rules”.

So far, no date has been set for HMRC’s appeal hearing.


The story so far

HMRC first began pursuing Lineker in 2017 over an estimated £4.9m tax liability after investigating three contracts he held with the BBC and BT Sport.

The tribunal took place between 27th February and 1st March this year. It was overseen by Judge John Brooks, who ruled that, in Lineker’s circumstances, “the intermediaries legislation does not, and cannot as a matter of law, apply”

This was because Lineker entered into the contracts directly, as the principal partner in his business partnership (Gary Lineker Media) and as the provider of the services. This meant that there was no intermediary present in the working relationships.

However, if Lineker’s business partner had negotiated the contracts on his behalf, an intermediary could have been in play. In those circumstances, the IR35 legislation could have applied.


TV presenters targeted by HMRC

Lineker is one of many high-profile media personalities targeted by the taxman for alleged IR35 non-compliance.

Adrian Chiles, Lorraine Kelly and Eamonn Holmes have all been through lengthy tribunal proceedings. While Chiles and Kelly have had rulings against them successfully overturned, Holmes’s appeal failed earlier this year, leaving him with an estimated £250,000 tax bill. 

HMRC has also targeted pundits and commentators who have worked for Sky Sports, including Alan Parry, whose representative suggested that Sky contracts were structurally problematic and “contained ambiguity” around control.

Subsequently, other Sky Sports workers – including Barry Cowan and Michael Lynagh – have faced similarly unsuccessful tribunals, landing significant tax bills.


Tax body “going all-in” on Lineker case

Speaking to the Mirror in response to the news, Dave Chaplin – CEO of IR35 Shield – suggested that “HMRC probably felt compelled to appeal”, otherwise the original ruling “would have signalled a potential loophole in the legislation”.

“HMRC appear to be going all-in on this, to buy themselves time and prevent contagion in other cases. If HMRC loses, one would expect them to try and appeal to the Court of Appeal, and then the Supreme Court”, he said.

Chaplin also suggested that HMRC may “lobby Ministers for a change in the law” to capture partnerships within the scope of IR35 legislation.


  • Philip Wade says:

    Surely a better use of HMRC time would to be chase down whatever happened to all the North Sea oil and gas revenues over the past 50 years and who got all the benefits. Certainly never got reinvested in UK power infrastructure. Leaves a big black hole in the wealth of the UK as a nation.

  • Pitt says:

    bet they don’t even know about his pump and dump shares in Quindell which were sold through a US chop house netting him millions before the company became worthless

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