HMRC’s pursuit of former footballer and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker for £4.9m under IR35 rules is fundamentally unsound, a tax specialist has said.
Qdos’s CEO Seb Maley said that it was unclear whether the case relating to income received between 2013 and 2018 should even relate to IR35.
The case had its preliminary hearing for a first-tier tax tribunal last week.
HMRC’s case against Lineker began in 2021 when the tax office claimed that the former England striker had worked for BT Sport and the BBC as a “disguised employee” between 2013 and 2018.
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Lineker, who was operating via a partnership (Gary Lineker Media) set up with his ex-wife, Danielle Bux, is contesting this. He has maintained that he entered into these contracts personally – his company was not engaged by the BBC or BT Sport. According to Qdos, if this is accepted, the IR35 legislation would not be a consideration and instead, the BBC and BT Sport would be liable for missing tax, not Lineker.
The judge in the case, having now been presented with both sides of the argument, will return with a decision in the coming months.
Maley said the case had illustrated how out of date the UK’s tax laws were. He 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.”
Lineker’s legal representative, James Rivett KC, said last week: “IR35 has nothing to do with it, they just looked in the wrong direction, and it proceeds from this assumption that a partnership is in some way an entity, and it isn’t, not this type of partnership.
“HMRC are looking in the wrong place here, if they thought there was a quasi-employment relationship between Mr Lineker and the BBC and BT Sport they should have assessed them.”
HMRC has previously targeted broadcasters including Lorraine Kelly and Kaye Adams in similarly cases, both of whom won their cases on appeal.
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