Former England striker and BBC host Gary Lineker has won his £4.9 million legal battle with British tax authorities.
Lineker, who turned host of the BBC’s flagship Match of the Day television programme, was told he should have been classed as an employee of both the BBC and BT Sport for his hosting duties, rather than as a freelancer.
The dispute arose because of the UK’s IR35 legislation, which aims to curb tax avoidance by disguised employees who bill their services through limited companies. The dispute concerned the unpaid bill on Lineker’s income from 2013 to 2018.
But Lineker repeatedly insisted he had paid the correct amount of tax and tribunal judge John Brooks ruled Tuesday (28) the law did not apply to the 62-year-old because there were direct contracts between the presenter and both the BBC and BT Sport.
Lineker tweeted later: “Thanks for all the congratulatory messages. I am pleased that the Tribunal has endorsed my contention that I have not failed to pay any taxes or National Insurance by reason of the IR35 rules.”
But an HMRC spokesperson, responding to the tribunal’s verdict, said: “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.”
Lineker, the longest-serving presenter of Match of the Day, did not front the show for one Saturday earlier this month after being taken off air in an impartiality row.
He was criticised for comparing the launch of the UK government’s new asylum policy to the rhetoric of Nazi-era Germany.
However, his removal sparked chaos across the BBC’s sporting coverage as presenters, pundits and commentators showed their backing for Lineker by refusing to work.
But Lineker, the BBC’s highest-paid presenter, returned to the programme the next week following a compromise agreement that included the corporation launching an independent review into its social media guidelines.