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Gary Lineker wins £4.9m tax battle with HMRC

Gary Lineker has won his £4.9 million tax battle with HMRC.

The Match Of The Day host was told by the taxman he should have been classed as an employee of the BBC and BT Sport for his presenting duties, rather than as a freelancer.

The tax authorities pursued him for £4.9 million which it was claimed should have been paid on income received between 2013 and 2018.

It comes as part of legislation known as IR35, designed to clampdown on tax avoidance by so-called disguised employees, who charge for their services via limited companies.

Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker leaves his home in London with his dog (James Manning/PA)
Gary Lineker leaves his home in London with his dog (James Manning/PA)

Throughout proceedings the presenter, 62, insisted all taxes were paid on the income via a partnership set up in 2012 with his ex-wife Danielle Bux.

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Tribunal Judge John Brooks found the IR35 legislation did not apply because there were direct contracts between the presenter and both the BBC and BT Sport.

The tribunal found that while Gary Lineker Media (GLM), which he set up with his then wife in 2012, was a partnership to which IR35 legislation applies, the appeal was still granted in full because contracts existed.

HMRC is considering appealing the decision.

The judge said: “As a matter of law, when Mr Lineker signed the 2013 BBC Contract, the 2015 BBC Contract and the BT Sport Contract for the provision of his services, he did so as principal thereby contracting directly with the BBC and BT Sport.

“As such, the intermediaries legislation cannot apply – it is only applicable ‘where services are provided not under a contract directly between client and the worker’.

“In this case Mr Lineker’s services were provided under direct contracts with the BBC and BT Sport.

“Although such a conclusion might appear inconsistent with my conclusions that the intermediaries legislation can apply to partnerships… that is not the case.”

He added that he could “dispose of the entire appeal in the appellants’ favour and the appeal is therefore allowed”.

Mr Lineker tweeted on Tuesday night: “I had already paid all tax due at the top rate and happily so.

“I’m still totally flabbergasted as to why I was expected to pay double. Thankfully justice was done.”

Earlier a spokesperson for him said: “I am pleased that the tribunal has confirmed that I have not failed to pay any taxes or national insurance by reason of the IR35 rules.”

The case follows similar attempts by HMRC to target other broadcasters including Lorraine Kelly and Kaye Adams.

Earlier tribunal documents said Mr Lineker is disputing the bill and it has been agreed he paid the income tax in full.

Mr Lineker’s lawyer James Rivett KC told a preliminary hearing in London last month that the star had been “dragged through the papers accused of not paying income tax which has been paid”, and claimed there was a political element to the investigations.

Following the ruling an HMRC spokesperson said: “The tribunal has confirmed the off-payroll rules apply to partnerships, as we have always said.

“However, we do not agree with its decision that the rules cannot apply in this case and we’re considering an appeal.

“It is our duty to ensure everyone pays the right tax under the law, regardless of wealth or status.”

Mr Lineker is Match of the Day’s longest-serving presenter and has been on the football show since the 1990s following a successful football career.

He did not present the show for one Saturday earlier this month after tweeting about the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill, which sparked an impartiality row. He returned to the show the following week.

HMRC has 56 days to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) if it wishes to do so.