As one of the most famous faces in football and mired in recent controversy, Gary Lineker looks like he might also score against HMRC too!

Apart from everything else this last week, Lineker has also been contesting his enormous £4.9m tax bill, telling a legal hearing that a tax inquiry into his finances had been “looking in the wrong place”.

HMRC wants the IR35 legislation to apply to the presenter’s contracts.

The Match Of The Day host (if indeed he still is!) was told by HMRC that he should have been classed as an employee of the BBC and BT Sport for his presenting duties. However, Lineker argues that he was a freelancer with an appropriate contract in place for the role.

We understand the multi-million-pound IR35 bill is the largest to have been issued so far to a contractor.

But what are HMRC actually accusing Lineker of?

HMRC are trying to apply the IR35 legislation to Lineker’s contracts. IR35 is designed to clampdown on tax avoidance by “disguised employees”, who charge for their services through limited (service) companies.

If the Court decides that the former England captain was engaged personally and did not genuinely operate through his company then the BBC and BT Sport would be potentially liable for missing employment taxes.

Has Lineker been singled out?

No, he hasn’t because he is just one of the many famous faces that have been targeted by HMRC in recent years following IR35 investigations.

In February last year, Adrian Chiles successfully contested a £1.7M IR35 bill. In 2019, Lorraine Kelly also successfully appealed her £1.2M IR35 bill at a tribunal. Kaye Adams also won her case and, more recently, Stuart Barnes was the first Sky TV case upheld at a tribunal.

Eamonn Holmes, however, is still challenging his tribunal verdict. His £250,000 liability IR35 case found him to be a disguised employee of ITV last year.

With the Judge having now heard both arguments from Lineker and HMRC, we understand a decision is expected in the next few months. So it’s going to be a case of “watch this space” on that one.

Should you be worried if you use contractors or freelancers in your own business?

The answer is potentially – yes – so definitely make sure you get your contracts and documents properly reviewed by experts such as ourselves.