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Match of the Day Host Gary Lineker to appeal £4.9m HMRC tax probe

BBC Presenter Gary Lineker poses for CBBC Celebrity Supply Teacher Spanish Lesson Photo Source: BBC Programmes
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Match of the Day host, Gary Lineker, is being pursued by HMRC in a First Tier Tax Tribunal carrying a potential £4.9m in tax liability.

According to HMRC, Lineker should have been operating ‘inside IR35’ on contracts held at the BBC (2013 – 2017) and at BT Sport (2015 – 2018). He is appealing, it has been confirmed by IR35 insurer and specialist, Qdos.

Lineker’s personal service company, Gary Lineker Media, which was established with his former wife Danielle Bux, disputes that the work done was effectively that of employment.

How much is Lineker earning at the BBC?

The presenter is currently the BBC’s highest-paid star, earning £1.75m in the 2019/2020 financial year, the Financial Times has reported.

Lineker has also agreed a new five-year contract with BBC, which will reduce his pay by 23 per cent., said the FT report.

During the pandemic, he donated two months’ pay to the Red Cross after calling on footballers to donate money to the NHS. But Lineker also works for other media groups, including leading BT Sport’s coverage of Europe’s Champions League football tournament.

“This is the most high profile case in the history of the IR35 legislation. It might also carry the most tax liability – a staggering £4.9m. But it’s not the first time HMRC have pursued a well known TV presenter, and I doubt it will be the last,” said Qdos CEO, Seb Maley.

Was Lineker told by BBC to work through a limited company?

Maley pointed out that the irony is that Gary Lineker may have been told by the BBC to work through a limited company. It might not have been his choice, as was the case with several other BBC freelancers who HMRC have targeted in recent years. 

“HMRC’s understanding of the IR35 rules and their track record in tribunals leaves a lot to be desired. So I wouldn’t be too surprised if it’s found that Lineker is genuinely self-employed and HMRC have got things wrong yet again.

“This case also highlights the potential risks of non compliance – not just to freelancers and contractors, but also to businesses that engage them. It’s vital that well informed IR35 status decisions are made from the outset.”

Qdos is a specialist contractor tax, IR35 and insurance adviser that has handled over 1,600 IR35 enquiries. Qdos is helping over 2,200 businesses prepare for and manage reform to the off-payroll working rules.

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