Football legend Gary Lineker is in dispute with HM Revenue & Customs over work he carried out for the BBC and BT Sport between 2013 and 2017 over his status as a ‘disguised employee’ under legislation known as IR35.

Tax tribunal documents published in April 2021 revealed that the Match of the Day presenter has been in dispute with HMRC for over a year.  He is facing a bill of £3,621,735.90 in income tax and £1,313,755.38 in national insurance contributions from the tax authority.

Gary Lineker Media, the personal service partnership which Lineker set up with his former wife are disputing that the work done was effectively that of employment.  They have lodged an appeal against the tax tribunal but the case remains ongoing due to coronavirus restrictions.  Legislation known as IR35 is designed to crack down on so called ‘disguised employees’ who bill for their services via a limited company to avoid paying income tax and national insurance contributions.  They pay corporate taxes which are often lower.

Gary Lineker’s agent Jon Holmes has pointed out that he works for many other people, not just the BBC.  Despite being the corporation’s highest paid star the presenter has agreed to cut the fee for his new five-year contract by 23% and he also donated two months’ salary of his 2020 salary to the NHS during the pandemic.  However, his case is just the latest in a long list of high-profile celebrities facing scrutiny by the tax authorities over their status as freelancers or contractors versus employees.  Lorraine Kelly, Kaye Adams and Eamonn Holmes have also been subject to investigation by HMRC.

Arcus Taxpert Andrew Cross said; “HMRC are taking a good look at this issue and will continue their focus in 2021 as a result of new rules that came into effect for the private sector 6th April.  As a result, many companies are taking the safest possible option and categorising contractors as employees.”

  • IR35 refers to the off-payroll working rules that aim to ensure that both contractors and the companies they are working for are paying the right amount of tax.

  • Under the reforms, medium and large private businesses will become responsible for judging whether their contractors fall inside or outside the scope of IR35, rather than the workers themselves.

  • If a contractor provides services to a medium or large-sized private sector client, they should get an employment status determination from the client.

  • There are no changes to the rules for contractors providing services to small businesses in the private sector.