Former England striker-turned TV football presenter Gary Lineker is facing a £5m tax claim from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), court documents show.
The taxman believes, according to the papers released ahead of a tax tribunal, that the star owes £3,621,735.90 in income tax and £1,307,160.46 in National Insurance contributions for TV work at both the BBC and BT Sport.
The Times newspaper, which first reported the sum, said that Lineker strongly disputed the amount.
The dispute, one of a number of recent cases involving the employment status of celebrities, centres on his work fronting Match of the Day during the tax years 2013-14 to 2016- 17 inclusive and BT's Champions League coverage during the tax years 2015-16 to 2017-18.
HMRC argues he should have been paid as a direct employee of both companies rather than as a contractor via Gary Lineker Media (GLM) – a company set up in 2012 with his-then wife Danielle.
While it is not known exactly how Lineker was paid through GLM, the use of such vehicles has come under fire from the taxman as they have been used for partial remuneration in the form of dividends which are subject to a lower rate of tax than income.
Another star of the screen, Eamonn Holmes, lost a similar battle last year over his work for ITV's This Morning.
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Under new rules from last month, the private sector aligned with the public sector on freelance workers being treated as full-time staff – with the onus on tax status being placed firmly on the company hiring the contractor.
A spokesman for Lineker told the newspaper that the true tax bill he faced was much smaller than HMRC's declared total because he had paid much of it already.
"The tax involved is a nominal amount and he is appealing it," he was quoted as saying.
An HMRC spokesperson responded: "We do not comment on identifiable taxpayers or ongoing legal proceedings.
"HMRC has recently won a number of important cases, including at the Upper Tribunal, which set a useful precedent and give welcome clarity to taxpayers and HMRC alike."