The taxman is shaping 30-page letters to football clubs informing them of
sweeping probes into how much of players’ salaries are put into image rights,
according to RSM Tenon.
HMRC has taken issue because it believes the practice can see the UK’s tax
take reduced if it is abused.
Image rights are placed into vehicles which operate as companies, meaning
they are taxed as corporate funds instead of as income, which is higher and set
to rise to 50% from 6 April.
“We believe that HMRC is raising enquiry letters into clubs’ employment tax
processes, running into 30 pages and more, seeking to levy income tax, national
insurance, interest and penalties on so-called ‘excessive’ payments to Image
Rights Companies,” said Pete Hackleton associate director at the firm’s
entertainment, media and sports division.
“HMRC contends that in many cases the IRCs receive an excessive return and
therefore payments to them are effectively ‘disguised employment income’”.
HMRC has become noticeably tougher in its approach to football clubs, agents
and players in the past few months.
It also emerged HMRC was owed significant amounts of taxation by a number of
clubs, leading to winding-up orders in the courts against Portsmouth, Cardiff
City and Southend United.
An HMRC spokesman would not comment on individual cases, but said:”
The Government remains committed to ensuring that everyone pays their fair
share of tax and that the minority who seek not to do so, should not succeed.
HMRC said business customers should use its Clearance Service if they wanted
clarity about how tax law applies to specific transactions.
“They will need to provide us with the full facts and context of the
transaction, as well as highlighting the uncertainty in question,” the spokesman
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