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HMRC slammed as Gary Lineker’s £4.9m IR35 bill is appealed 

Tax office is criticised for trying to apply IR35 to Match of the Day host’s contracts

Gary Lineker has contested his £4.9m tax bill, with his representatives blasting HMRC for allegedly wanting the IR35 legislation to apply to the presenter’s contracts.  

After the preliminary hearing last week, James Rivett KC, was quoted in The Mirror saying:

“HMRC were looking, in their old turn of phrase, to see why IR35 should not apply, they wanted it to apply. It is perfectly plain from the evidence that HMRC closed their minds to anything on the contrary.”

HMRC claims this multi-million-pound IR35 bill – said to be the largest issued so far to a contractor – is due as a result of Lineker incorrectly operating outside the IR35 legislation when engaged by the BBC and BT Sport between 2013 and 2018. 

Lineker disputes this, with his representative Rivett stating that all taxes were correctly paid by the Match of the Day host: “My client has been dragged through the papers, accused of not paying income tax which has been paid.”


IR35 is not a factor, Lineker’s defence says

He also said that HMRC was looking “in the wrong place” and that Lineker wasn’t engaged by the broadcasters via his partnership – Gary Lineker Media – but was instead engaged directly. 

If it’s decided that the former England striker was engaged personally – and did not operate through his company – the BBC and BT Sport would be liable for missing employment taxes.

“HMRC are looking in the wrong place here. If they thought there was a quasi-employment relationship between Mr Lineker and the BBC and BT Sport they should have assessed them”, Rivett said. 


Lineker is just one of many presenters targeted by HMRC

Lineker is one of a number of high-profile presenters who have been subject to IR35 investigations in recent years. 

Adrian Chiles successfully contested a £1.7m IR35 bill in February 2022, while Lorraine Kelly also successfully appealed her £1.2m IR35 bill at a tribunal in 2019. 

Eamonn Holmes has been less successful, however, and is challenging a first-tier tribunal verdict which found him to be a disguised employee of ITV last year. Holmes’ IR35 case carries around £250,000 in liability. 

HMRC’s focus on media personalities was referenced by Lineker’s QC, Rivett, who spoke of the tax office’s “policy” of looking at people in the media. 

With the judge having now heard Lineker’s and HMRC’s arguments, a decision is expected in the coming months. 


IR35 in the spotlight ahead of Spring Budget

Ahead of the Spring Budget on 15th March, industry experts have called on the government to consider the impact that the off-payroll working rules continue to have on contractors. 

Conservative MP Sir John Redwood also recently urged the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to repeal these rules in the upcoming Budget, which he said have left independent workers on the receiving end of a “very bad deal”.

The association for the self-employed, IPSE, echoed Redwood’s comments, with the trade body’s Director of Policy, Andy Chamberlain, recommending a review of the IR35 rules. 

Chamberlain also said that if the government is serious about growing the economy, “it should be doing all it can to make self-employment an attractive and aspirational option.”

1 Comment

  • David Gray says:

    Another Blair and Brown disaster, ir35 the reason people over 55 have packed in working.
    Why would you work for an umbrella company paying two lots of ni, income tax and have to put money aside to pay for your holiday and Sick pay,
    Outside ir35 you can draw a pension and yourself pay dividends at a lower rate of tax, when required , no brainer.

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