The UK tax agency is to visit major league soccer clubs to discuss tax avoidance through image rights, reports Tax News.
The announcement follows concerns raised by the Public Accounts Committee that HMRC is not doing enough to ensure that the correct amount of tax is collected from high-net-worth individuals. Further impetus was added by the recent announcement at the Budget that HMRC would publish guidelines for employers who make payments of image rights to "improve the clarity of the existing rules."
"This renewed focus on footballers' image rights shows that this issue is not going to go away for some time and clubs and players should be ready for HMRC to challenge arrangements where they take the view that certain structures and remuneration packages are not compliant with anti-avoidance legislation," said Andy Brown, a Partner in Bird & Bird's International Tax Disputes team with experience in dealing with footballers' image rights. "Football clubs should assess their position (and that of their players) and determine the extent of their risk exposure."
He added that HMRC is increasingly looking at those they perceive as enabling and facilitating tax evasion and avoidance, including advisers, rather than simply focusing on the players themselves.