So in the past few years, we’ve had allegations of bungs, bribes, match fixing, false advertising in the case of Torres and Carroll – strikers? Well they certainly do not do what it says on the tin, and now the latest storm for football to weather is that of tax perks.
It was reported over the weekend that HMRC are more than a little curious about the ‘secret perks’ that footballers are enjoying at the courtesy of clubs and their owners. It is not just holidays or even cars that are interesting HRMC, oh no – they are even asking about health benefits and intimating tax could be paid on these.
Basically it is anything that are ‘benefits in kind’ so it is not wages obviously, which footballers in the UK get absolutely crucified on already, especially in comparison to other countries, but the ‘perks’ they are receiving, and the ever greedy HMRC state that they would not enter into such investigations if they did not feel a great deal of money could be reaped from it.
That alone illustrates not only how serious they feel about this issue – why wouldn’t they, a further chance to fill their chest with gold – but also how successful they feel they have the potential to be. If you rack your brains, it is not hard to think of which ever club you support, your favourite player and a benefit he has received from the club – it may not be a holiday or a car, perhaps it is just accommodation for a few nights on arriving in England, whatever it is, there are more than enough examples, and the HMRC have cottoned on to this.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not sitting here asking you to cry into what is left of the beer from New Year for the footballers who have so much in comparison to the rest of us, and I am fully aware that it is not just footballers who pay a huge amount of their earnings to the HMRC, not to mention the fact that we are also expected to pay tax and national insurance on the ‘benefits’ we get – but before this turns into a rant about the government and our tax system, I am simply highlighting the fact that it is not even just football in which the taxation differs massively in the UK to other countries.
Rafael Nadal for example has chosen to forgo playing at his usual Wimbledon warm-up tournament of the last few years at Queen’s in London, in favour of Halle in Germany for the next three years due to the difference in tax on the payment and winnings – England take half the appearance fee and also a substantial proportion of their world wide endorsements – determined on how much time they spend competing in the UK.
Is this right for Rafa to do– no it is not, and when I read this a few months back I was disappointed in Rafa for prioritising the money over anything else, but at the end of the day, it is a vital factor for sportsmen these days, and do we really want to isolate the UK even further by attempting to seize more of the wages the footballers earn?
Eventually, they will become like Rafa Nadal and chose to play their trade in La Liga or elsewhere – it is hardly like England can compete with the weather, the winter break, the women – I could go on, and as a country we do not want the best talent to go elsewhere – we want it here.
Do I feel good attempting to defend footballers over their astronomical salary – no I do not, and this is not what I am trying to get across here, but at the end of the day, if you have the choice between playing abroad paying less tax on firstly your wages and then your ‘benefits’ or in the UK where you are heavily taxed on all of these, which would you go for?
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