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A photo of a football | AccountingWEB | John Barnes rapped for failing to pay thousands in tax
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John Barnes rapped for failing to pay £190k in tax

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Former England and Liverpool footballer John Barnes has been banned as a company director after his firm failed to pay more than £190,000 in corporation tax and VAT.

24th Apr 2024
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The left winger and ‘World in Motion’ rapper was pulled up by the Insolvency Service after he paid zero tax to HMRC between November 2018 and October 2020, despite his company having a turnover of £441,798.

Barnes, who provided media services through John Barnes Media Limited, was disqualified following an investigation from the Insolvency Service after the company went into liquidation in September last year.

The investigation found that the Liverpool legend did not pay £78,839 in corporation tax between August 2018 until the company ceased trading in January 2020. He also left unpaid VAT payments of £115,272. Together, the footballer’s unpaid tax amounted to £194,111.

Coming into force today (Wednesday 24 April), Barnes is now banned from being a company director for three-and-a-half years.

Mike Smith, chief investigator at the Insolvency Service, said: “John Barnes had a legal duty to ensure his company paid the correct amount of corporation tax and VAT. Instead, it paid no tax whatsoever between November 2018 and October 2020, despite receiving earnings of well over £400,000.

“This disqualification should serve as a deterrent to other directors that if you do not pay your taxes while directing money elsewhere, you are at risk of being banned.” 

Footballers caught offside

Barnes isn’t the only footballer to have been caught offside with tax. Former Everton forward Oumar Niasse recently lost a first tier tax tribunal after he tried to deduct agent fees from his employment income.

The striker tried to argue that he was an ‘entertainer’, since entertainers are allowed to deduct agency fees from employment income. 

However, the tax which has tripped over footballers the most in the penalty box has been the IR35 rules. TV football pundits Neil McCann, Phil Thompson and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker have all stood at the defensive line against long-running IR35 investigations into their tax affairs.

Both Thompson and McCann have lost their appeals against HMRC. However, Gary Lineker won his dispute against HMRC over a £4.9m tax bill.

As for Barnes, the footballer may need to take advice from his famous World in Motion terrace anthem next time it comes to paying tax: “You’ve got to hold and give, But do it at the right time…” 

Replies (8)

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By FactChecker
24th Apr 2024 18:45

Is that it ("banned from being a company director for three-and-a-half years")?

There's very little which that prevents you from doing (in a practical sense).
What about the £194,111 of unpaid tax (presumably plus penalties and interest)?

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By pr27
24th Apr 2024 19:53

I’d be interested to know where the funds were diverted to here. If diverted to the shareholders, a £190k pay day for a 3 and half year ban is hardly a deterrent.

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Replying to pr27:
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By Bobbo
25th Apr 2024 14:42

If you look at the last accounts the company filed, there were assets of 285,540 of which 228,081 was DLA and liabilities of 285,093 of which 281,423 was Taxation and Social Security.

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By johnthegood
25th Apr 2024 07:20

Bit of a lazy article - on a turnover of 441k, VAT owed of 115k, how does that work? Must be a fair amount of penalties and interest.

"Earnings of well over 400K" - what on earth does that mean? Has Mr Barnes declared unlawful dividends here, stripping the company of its cash without leaving enough for tax and VAT, on the face of it the numbers would suggest so, what is the impact on his personal tax position? Where did all the money go? Whats the background here?

You are on a site for accountants here not Sky News, more details needed or don't bother.

Thanks (8)
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By JustAnotherUser
25th Apr 2024 13:50

“This disqualification should serve as a deterrent to other directors that if you do not pay your taxes while directing money elsewhere, you are at risk of being banned.”

whoever said this is a joker right.

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By Justin Bryant
25th Apr 2024 18:22

Is there a John Barnes rap joke in there? If so, do I win a prize for spotting it? Actually, forget that as I have just read the article's first line!

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By Richard_Carey
29th Apr 2024 14:42

"There's only one way to beat them...get round the VAT"

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By Paul Crowley
26th Apr 2024 10:18

Completely pointless as a penalty.
Justice was not served.

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