Gary Lineker’s HMRC battle wasn’t an IR35 case after all

Gary Lineker's HMRC battle wasn’t an IR35 case after all

HMRC has 56 days to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber)

Gary Lineker’s HMRC battle wasn’t an IR35 case after all

HMRC must take “a long hard look in the mirror” after Gary Linker won his appeal against them over a £4.9m tax bill, according to Dave Chaplin, CEO at IR35 Shield.   

The tax authorities told the former England striker that he should have been categorised as an employee of the BBC despite owning his own company where he provides freelance services to the BBC and previously BT Sport.    

Judge John Brooks, who released the decision on 28th March 2023, said: “The effect of my conclusions is that because there were direct contracts between the BBC and Mr. Lineker and BT Sport and Mr. Lineker, the intermediaries legislation (IR35) does not, and cannot as a matter of law, apply.” 

“Accordingly, and notwithstanding GLM (Gary Lineker Media) being a partnership, that is the end of the matter and the appeal succeeds.” 

Chaplin says Lineker has had to “waste” a great deal of money defending himself, and HMRC “wasted” taxpayers’ money fighting a losing battle.”    

This view is echoed by Seb Maley, CEO at Qdos Contractor, who believes taxpayers’ money was misdirected.  

Additionally, Maley says, “HMRC based its argument around Lineker’s IR35 compliance but given Lineker worked directly with the BBC and BT Sport – and not via an intermediary – IR35 wasn’t the issue. You would hope HMRC could have identified this from the word go.”   

Since the case began, Lineker has communicated that all his taxes were paid on income via GLM, a partnership he created with his ex-wife, Danielle Bux. 

HMRC has previously made similar attempts to pursue other broadcasters, such as Lorraine Kelly and Kaye Adams. 

“This is just another example of a high-profile individual being caught up in a sausage machine-like IR35 racket that HMRC has been running for years, to try and extort money from genuine freelancers with the threat of expensive court cases, which most can ill afford,” notes Chaplin.    

HMRC has 56 days to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber). 

‘Not your average IR35 case’  

Maley is keen to stress that this is not an average IR35 case, so there’s not a huge amount contractors can take from Lineker’s victory.  

“As it turned out, it’s not an IR35 case at all. Lineker didn’t win this case due to being genuinely self-employed – his appeal was successful based on the fact that HMRC was focusing on something irrelevant,” he adds.    

Via his LinkedIn, Maley, said: “As it turned out, it shouldn’t have been [IR35]. Lineker signed the contract himself, as both the worker and a principal of his partnership. 

“If his partner, Danielle Bux, had instead, IR35 could have come into play. Just when we thought IR35 couldn’t get more complex, this legislation surprises everyone.” 

Chaplin argues that HMRC’s attempts to suggest Lineker should be considered as a BBC employee was “absurd.”  

“Let’s hope that HMRC considers this IR35 match over and doesn’t demand a replay.” 

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