Record 329 professional footballers – including Prem stars – and 31 clubs being probed for suspected tax avoidance

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A RECORD 329 professional footballers are under investigation for suspected tax avoidance.

Premier League stars are among those being looked into — the most since HMRC started keeping figures.

A record 329 professional footballers are under investigation for suspected tax avoidance

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A record 329 professional footballers are under investigation for suspected tax avoidance

The total investigated in 2021/22 is up from just 93 the season before.

Some 31 clubs and 91 agents are also being probed.

It comes as HMRC steps up its work to combat tax swindles in the sport.

It has appointed a team of fraud experts to liaise with the FA’s Football Compliance Project.

They will look to crack down on tax avoidance linked to image rights deals.

In these, clubs pay players extra to use their image in advertising and endorsements.

The cash is commonly paid to a firm the player sets up and subject to 19 per cent Corporation Tax rather than 45 per cent high-earner Income Tax.

Clubs pay a commission to agents, which HMRC says should be taxed.

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Newcastle United has hired lawyers to fight a £5million tax demand relating to transfer deals.

Tax expert Elliott Buss, a partner at accountancy group UHY Hacker Young, said: “The Football Compliance Project linking up with HMRC’s elite fraud unit means the tax authority is very concerned about the significant amounts of unpaid tax in the sport.

“HMRC sees football as an industry where millions of pounds in tax can very easily go unpaid. It is determined not to let that happen.”

HMRC says it has collected £560million in additional football-related tax since 2015.

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