Athletes not paying taxes is a refrain that never goes out of style. Moreover, there are many tax evasion stories that have filled the front pages of newspapers over the years: here are the most incredible ones.
Tax evaders: From Lionel Messi to Valentino Rossi
Problems between tax authorities and athletes have no duration. In every period of sports history, we find disputes between athletes and tax control bodies always in a short circuit with recurring elements: fictitious residences, undeclared earningsrevenues that take strange turns and then return to where they started through third parties.
In recent years, there has been controversy against athletes who decided to move their residence to so-called “tax havens”. The best-known case is that of tennis players: from Novak Djokovic to Daniil Medvedev, from Holger Rune to Stefanos Tsitsipas to Jannik Our Sinner. all residents of Monte CarloIn the Principality of Monaco, where there is a tax-free tax regime on personal income, assets and capital gains.
Montecarlo, on the other hand, is always seen as the reference city for individual sports athletes looking for an advantageous tax regime. Today, in addition to the tennis players mentioned, many Formula 1 stars also live here (Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg). To obtain a residence permit, you need to rent or buy an apartment, connect to utilities and open an account with at least 500,000 euros: Very simple.
But so far there is nothing wrong: everyone has the right to live where they choose and make the most of the opportunities offered. The situation is different for athletes who avoid taxes for various reasons. One of the most well-known stories of the recent past is the story of Lionel Messi, the strongest and most famous football player in the world. The world champion and four-time Ballon d’Or winner found himself facing a lawsuit before the Spanish justice system. non-payment of approximately 4 million euros It’s about image rights.
Convicted by the Spanish Supreme Court, Messi paid his debt and He paid a fine of 285 thousand euros to avoid the 21-month prison sentence given to him. His was a case of escaping from a very complex technical structure. The Argentine number 10 had actually transferred his image rights to a Belizean company registered in his mother’s name.
A short time later, the same company sold its rights to another UK-based company, this time registered in the father’s name, and this company signed contracts with companies based in Uruguay and Switzerland, two countries where legislation is not mandatory. tax authorities having to justify the source of the money. In short, a big mess.
An older case but still in the Italian news is that of the beloved Valentino Rossi. In August 2007, the Revenue Administration objected. Failure to pay taxes of 60 million euros. The nine-time motorcycle world champion and the only person in history to win in four different categories was living in London at the time and irregularities were detected compared to those announced in England and Italy. The country where “The Doctor” spent a lot of time anyway.
The case ended with a plea agreement. Rossi paid 35 million euros, Returned the tax office to Italy and declared that his then managers were responsible for this unpleasant mess and immediately ceased cooperation with him.
Bad habits and tax evasion, not just Becker
Manny Pacquiao, one of the greatest boxers in history and the first boxer to win eight world championships in eight different weight categories, is also one of the world’s leading boxers. Athletes with the most tax evasion cases at his expense. The Philippine government accused him of failing to pay $50 million in taxes in 2013, while the United States believes the Filipino boxer should pay $18 million to the US IRS. Pacquiao defended himself in court and won, but the lawsuits are still ongoing.
Even Neymar, the great talent of Brazilian football, is now accustomed to tax evasion cases. He was accused by the courts in Brazil of having to pay $50 million (this was later rectified). He later found himself embroiled in a dispute with Spanish authorities, who believed he had evaded more than €35 million in commissions paid to him during his move from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain.
Finally Boris Becker bad investments, bankruptcies, passion for poker and, among various other vices and profligacy, he was also involved in a tax evasion case and spent eight months in prison after hiding 2.5 million euros from the German tax authorities.