Gary Lineker’s lawyers have told a legal hearing that a tax inquiry into the footballer’s finances has been “looking in the wrong place”.
The Match Of The Day host was told by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that he should have been classed as an employee of the BBC and BT Sport for his presenting duties, rather than as a freelancer.
HMRC is now pursuing him for £4.9m that it said 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.
Lineker says all taxes were paid on the income via a partnership set up in 2012 with his ex-wife, Danielle Bux, and is appealing against the demand.
On Monday, a preliminary hearing in London was told Lineker has now paid the income tax in full.
James Rivett KC, representing Lineker, argued: “What should have happened is that HMRC should have assessed the BBC for tax and that isn’t what happened.
“IR35 has nothing to do with it, they just looked in the wrong direction, and it proceeds from this assumption that a partnership is in some way an entity, and it isn’t, not this type of partnership.”
Rivett said the case the HMRC is setting out “cannot apply” in this instance.
He went on: “HMRC are looking in the wrong place here; if they thought there was a quasi-employment relationship between Mr Lineker and the BBC and BT Sport they should have assessed them.
“They shouldn’t have used this torturous machinery to do it which gives rise to all sorts of issues of double taxation.”
He added: “We’re in front of you to argue an appeal in respect of an amount of income tax that everybody acknowledges has been paid.”
It follows similar attempts by HMRC to target broadcasters including Lorraine Kelly and Kaye Adams, who both won their cases on appeal.
Lineker is disputing the bill, according to tax tribunal documents.
The presenter is expected to argue that his partnership, Gary Lineker Media, is required to funnel his income through because of the wide variety of work he does.
HMRC will say his extensive work for BT Sport and the BBC means he should be classed as an employee for tax purposes.
Gary Lineker’s lawyers say HMRC tax inquiry ‘looking in the wrong place’