26th May 2017
Anyone with an eye on the 6CATS International blog in recent months will have spotted a growing trend. While governments around the world are doing all they can to reclaim revenue lost through tax evasion, the footballing world seems to be oblivious to these changes and growing numbers of high-profile stars have been accused of breaking the law in recent months. This has affected players in France, Germany, Spain and Italy and earlier this month the offices of both West Ham and Newcastle United were raided by HMRC.
The latest stars to be caught up in tax scandals are Monaco’s Radamel Falcao, Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao, and Paris St Germain’s Argentinian duo, Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore.
The former two players have had lawsuits filed against them by the Spanish authorities, with Falcao’s charges related to his time playing for Atletico Madrid in 2012-13. He has been accused of failing to correctly declare €5.6m of income earned from image rights while Coentrao is suspected of hiding €1.3m between 2012 and 2014.
In addition, the two Paris St Germain players have been accused of hiding their income in offshore tax havens. A December 2016 report from Mediapart implicated Pastore and Di Maria and last week went even further by stating:
“The Paris club signed a contract in August 2015 with an offshore company that manages the image rights of Angel di Maria in Panama, the contract indicates that the club receives a portion of the money to this company from di Maria’s image rights…. This will interest the French national financial prosecutor, who had already opened a preliminary investigation for “laundering aggravated fiscal fraud,” aimed specifically at Angel di Maria.”
Pastore has since also been accused of using the same system to avoid paying the appropriate amount of tax. Indeed, this isn’t the first instance of Paris St Germain players being investigated and some commentators have suggested that the deal signed with the Panama based organisation is now in breach of updated tax laws. It remains to be seen what punishments the players will face, but if the examples of Neymar, Messi and Mascherano – who have all been found guilty of evasion – are anything to go by, then it’s likely they’ll face heavy fines and potential criminal sanctions as a result.
Footballers are heroes for many, but in this case it’s certainly not advisable to mimic their actions – particularly when it comes to paying taxes, or not paying them as the case may be. These cases once again highlight some of the potential penalties (sorry) on offer for tax evaders and while multi-millionaire footballers, or their vastly rich employers, may be able to handle major fines and sanctions, it’s unlikely that many agencies could. If you’re at all unsure about your tax status in France, Spain, Germany or wherever you’re working around the world then make sure you speak to the specialists.