The taxman is pursuing Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker over a tax bill of £4.9m, linked with IR35 legislation.
Lineker, who is self-employed, set up a partnership with his former wife in 2012, which he used to channel his earnings from BT Spot and the BBC.
According to tax tribunal documents, published last month, the former footballer has been in a dispute with HMRC for well over a year about his earnings.
In total, the taxman is seeking £4.9m in national insurance contributions from Lineker for work he carried out with the BBC between 2013/14 and 2026/17 tax years for the BT Sport during the 2015/16 and 2017/18 tax years.
Lineker’s case is linked with IR35 legislation, a regulation to clamp down on what the government believes to be false self-employment.
Essentially, if HMRC thinks someone is falsely self-employed, it can tax them at the higher rate of an employee — but without any of the rights.
HMRC considers that Lineker’s work fell within the ambit of IR35. Lineker disagrees and is appealing.
Qdos CEO, Seb Maley, said: “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.
“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.”
Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes has also fallen foul of the taxman over IR35 legislation.
ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin added: “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.
“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.”