Footballers targeted by taxman.
Accountants are warning that an elite squad of Midland tax investigators is planning a major review of the tax affairs of professional clubs and their players.
KPMG in Birmingham says several clubs have been visited recently by investigators from the Midland Wales Inland Revenue to confirm that their tax affairs are in order.
Ms Heather Taylor, a principal tax consultant with the firm, is concerned that the taxman might use extensive powers of random audit under the self-assessment regulations to concentrate their efforts on the personal tax affairs of players.
"Professional football has always been a particular target for the taxman," she said.
"Many players are reported as receiving large salaries from their clubs and additional sums from businesses seeking commercial endorsements for their products. Nowadays, numerous players are also non-UK nationals so the Revenue may look closely at what income is generated overseas and whether it should be taxed in the UK."
Ms Taylor also warned that the Revenue might target benefits from testimonials, and items like cars, sports kit or designer clothing given to players or their families by commercial sponsors. Income from newspaper columns and interviews might also be cross-checked.
"Overall, the last thing that football needs at the moment is yet another onslaught from the taxman. Unfortunately, the new powers of random audit mean no reason need be given for an investigation," Ms Taylor said.