Empowering the Freelance Economy

IR35: is it an attack on the solo self-employed?

Solo self-employed should be celebrating client loyalty instead of being punished for it/ Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
1 1,532

Ex-football pro and sports TV presenter Gary Lineker’s £4.9m IR35 bill highlights the complexity of what is being coined an archaic and double-taxation tax system on Great Britain’s self-employed, according to insurer Qdos.

The complexity surrounding Gary Lineker’s disputed £4.9m IR35 tax bill – which was heard at a preliminary hearing for a first-tier tax tribunal last week – is a reflection of the confusion and ambiguity of the IR35 legislation and employment status rules, expert Qdos has said.

In 2021, it was revealed that HMRC was pursuing Gary Lineker for income tax and national insurance amounting to £4.9m, which the tax office claimed was unpaid as a result of the presenter working as a disguised employee while engaged by the BBC and BT Sport between 2013 and 2018.

Lineker, who was operating via a partnership (Gary Lineker Media) set up with his ex-wife, Danielle Bux, is contesting this bill. The presenter’s argument is that he entered into these contracts personally – his company was not engaged by the BBC or BT Sport. If this is accepted, the IR35 legislation is not a consideration and instead, the BBC and BT Sport would be liable for missing tax, not Lineker. 

HMRC disagree and the Judge, having now been presented with both sides of the argument, will return with a draft decision in the coming months.

Confusion over employment status often works in the tax office’s favour but at a huge financial and mental cost to the often innocent individuals and businesses being pursued.

Qdos CEO Seb Maley
Football legends often set up their own businesses to earn a living after they retire from the sport. But when you are solo self-employed you can be considered a disguised employee by HMRC, despite having more than one client. When you are an employee you usually cannot work for another company, so why is HMRC coming after the likes of Gary Lineker who now finds himself with a multi-million-pound tax bill? When Lineker has taken time off from work due to illness since becoming self-employed, did BBC provide him with sick pay or private health insurance?

Commenting on the case, Qdos CEO Seb Maley, said: 

“This is one of the most high-profile IR35 cases in history yet nobody can seem to agree if this case even relates to the IR35 legislation. It’s staggering.

“The situation Gary Lineker finds himself in just goes to show how complex the tax system is. It’s archaic. Take IR35 for example – it’s based on decades-old case law that doesn’t reflect modern ways of working. It’s not fit for purpose. 

“And let’s not forget, the government still plans to shut down the Office of Tax Simplification, which is alarming. Not that HMRC cares, though. Confusion over employment status often works in the tax office’s favour but at a huge financial and mental cost to the often innocent individuals and businesses being pursued.”

1 Comment
  1. David Gray says

    absolutely what the twitter storm is about, nothing to do with boat people all to do with proving independence from the BBC.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.