Last year, one in every 12 professional footballers in the UK had enquiries opened into their tax affairs by HMRC, according to research by accountants UHC Hacker Young.

HMRC has opened tax investigations into 270 professional football players in the past year, up from 93 in the previous year. These figures approach the pre-COVID number (246) of Investigations into the football industry in 2019-2020, although these included club and agent investigations.

According to the accountants, HMRC are especially concerned with Benefits In Kind, in particular agents' fees often paid by clubs rather than players and undeclared payments such as accommodation for players’ friends and family.

For 2019-2020, HMRC's particular concerns over Image-rights deals.

"HMRC sees the football industry as an easy target. With the sums of money involved in transfers and contracts being so large, there is a great deal of extra tax there to be gathered," said tax partner, Elliott Buss.

In the top four divisions in England and Scotland, there are a total of 3,274 players registered, according to Transfermarkt.

Useful guides on this topic

Making Good Benefits In Kind
Currently, if an employee wants to make good on a non-payrolled Benefit In Kind they will have to reimburse their employer with the cash cost of the benefit by 6 July in the following tax year.

Tax-free benefits and perks
What are the key tax-free benefits or 'perks' that can be used to incentivise your staff? How should you structure them?

Golden handshakes, signing on fees and unusual payments
How are golden handshakes, signing-on fees and unusual payments taxed?

HMRC step up investigations of football industry
HMRC have stepped up their investigations into the tax affairs of the football industry, tripling investigations of individual professional footballers and more than doubling its tax takings from investigations in 2019/2020.

External links

UHY Hacker Young press release

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