Gary Lineker pursued by HMRC over £5m tax bill

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Gary Lineker - BBC
Gary Lineker - BBC

Gary Lineker is being pursued by HRMC over a tax bill of nearly £5 million, it has emerged.

The Match of the Day presenter, who is freelance, set up a partnership in 2012 and used it to channel his earnings from both the BBC and his other job with BT Sport.

The arrangement is legal but HMRC is pursuing presenters who used this arrangement, arguing that they were effectively employees and should have paid employers' National Insurance contributions.

In Lineker’s case, this amounted to £4.9 million - £3,621,735.90 in respect of the BBC and £1,307,160.46 in respect of BT Sport.

Lineker is appealing the bill.

The case came to light this week in documents relating to Lineker’s appeal.

It is thought that HMRC will argue that, as Lineker was contracted to host a minimum number of Match of the Day programmes and other presenting work, the relationship between the Corporation and him was one of employer and employee.

He is the latest star to be pursued under IR 35 legislation. Eamonn Holmes is fighting a £250,000 tax bill while the BBC news presenters Joanna Gosling, David Eades and Tim Willcox were chased for £920,000 between them.

Lineker will not have to pay the £4.9 million in full as the tax he has paid through his company will be offset against it.

He set up the company, Gary Lineker Media, in 2012 with his then wife, Danielle Bux.

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Dave Chaplin, chief executive of the ContractorCalculator tax site, said: “Once again, we are seeing a high-profile celebrity being targeted by HMRC in a misguided attempt to shore up the Treasury’s coffers. The Intermediaries Legislation, commonly called IR35, was created in April 2000 by HMRC to crackdown on the ideological invention by HMRC of ‘deemed employees’.

“The fact is that high paid freelancers like Gary Lineker now pay more tax by operating via a limited company than an employee on the same salary.

“The tax efficiency by hiring someone self-employed is actually obtained by the firm that hires them, in this case the BBC, who would have avoided having to pay Employers National Insurance of 13.8% on top of whatever monies were paid to Mr Lineker. To suggest that he has avoided tax is pointing the finger in entirely the wrong direction.

“HMRC changed the rules for IR35 in the public sector from April 2017, and now if an individual is found to be a ‘deemed employee’ the Employers National Insurance is paid by the firm hiring the contractor. If Gary Lineker’s situation was under the IR35 microscope under the new rules then the BBC would have a tax bill to pay.

“Whilst the tax figures in these rulings can be considered headline grabbing, one has to consider that those figures are largely inflated compared to what is actually owed, because the amounts of tax already paid need to be offset, which in average cases is at least a third of the original sum.

“I sincerely hope that Gary Lineker wins his case. 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.”

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