The former England footballer-turned TV presenter Gary Lineker is facing a £5m tax bill from HMRC. According to the taxman, the star owes £3,621,735.90 in income tax and £1,307,160.46 in National Insurance contributions. Linker strongly disputes the amount and has been locked in battle with HMRC for over a year.
The case centres on his work presenting the BBC’s Match of the Day during the tax years 2013-14 to 2016- 17 and BT’s Champions League during the tax years 2015-16 to 2017-18. HMRC argues he should have been paid as a direct employee of both broadcasting companies, rather than as a contractor.
The case will consider whether the BBC and BT Sport had control over Lineker, or whether he had editorial independence. Lineker’s agent Jon Holmes said: “It is a question of whether he is employed by the BBC or not. Most people, once they understand employment law, would say of course he isn’t. He works for many other people.”
The TV personality Lorraine Kelly won her IR35 case on this basis, arguing that she was a performer who had a high degree of control over her show. A recent decision by a tax tribunal over Adams in the presenter’s favour could also be used in Lineker’s hearing, where she showed that her business interests were varied.
TV presenters Kaye Adams, Lorraine Kelly and Helen Fospero, as well as IT consultant Richard Alcock, all won their cases against HMRC. However the presenter, Eamonn Holmes, lost a similar battle last year over his work for ITV’s This Morning and is now preparing to appeal.
Dave Chaplin of ContractorCalculator, said: “HMRC continues to carry out a witch hunt on high profile media stars and fails to grasp the simple concept that there is a freelance premium, and because of this, freelancers end up generating more in tax by operating this way compared to employment. HMRC should be thanking freelancers for their contributions, not victimising them as tax avoiders using this cruel legislation.”
Lineker set up his limited company GLM in 2012 with his-then wife Danielle. At the time the BBC told many of its freelancers they could only be paid via a limited company structure. It’s also the case that under the news rules brought in last month, it would be the BBC paying much of the additional tax HMRC is claiming that GLM owes. Fortunately, once the amount owned is offset by tax paid, the final amount is likely to be much lower, at around £600,000.
Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), criticised the legislation as needlessly complex, saying: ‘HMRC are on very uncertain ground here – they’ve lost several of these cases, including the recent Kaye Adams case at the Upper Tier Tribunal, which could have a bearing on the outcome of this case.
‘The problem here is not that Mr 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.’
This content has been supplied by IR35 Guru
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