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Osborne offers tax break to lure Bolt to London

Olympic champion Usain Bolt and other overseas athletes will be able to compete tax-free in this year's London Diamond League event at the Olympic Stadium after George Osborne agreed to a "one-off" exemption.

Jamaican Bolt, who won three golds at last year's London Games, had not previously raced in the United Kingdom since 2009 because of tax rules which would have left him out of pocket.

British tax rules mean that visiting overseas athletes would have paid tax on their earnings from the meeting but also on part of their global income including sponsorship deals.


In the meantime, I am sure HMRC will be stepping up their efforts to ensure those pesky waiters/waitresses declare their tips, not to mention anybody who chooses to pay a tradesperson in cash.


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07th Feb 2013 13:19

Is it...

... a "one off"?  I thought it happened every time there was a major international sporting event hosted in the UK?

I've also got this strange vague recollection of Usain Bolt running round that very same stadium just last year?

Sound like media perpetuated piffle to me.

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07th Feb 2013 13:37

Really ?

George Attazder wrote:

Sound like media perpetuated piffle to me.

Do you think that it is right that tax legislation can be temporarily lifted at the request of multi millionnaire athletes at a time when David Cameron wants a focus on tax avoidance and critisising "clever Accountants" who help their clients to minimise their tax liability within the laws that he creates ?


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07th Feb 2013 13:31

Yep, only way to get them here is to bribe them

The legislation around the Olympics is eye opening

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07th Feb 2013 13:41

This highlights the problem

If the UK wants certain people to come to the country they have to make it financially sensible. These people can easily avoid coming to the UK and I don't blame them if they have to pay more in tax than they can earn.

Until we address the problem of paying people not to work the situation will just get worse.

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07th Feb 2013 14:12

No, no, no

You're talking about an overseas sports personality and the income that he derives from his image being used for promotional purposes by his sponsors.

Inevitably if he appears anywhere that is televised then that promotes awareness of his image, and in the UK he would otherwise get taxed on a proportion of his image rights income, no part of which was really earned in the UK, as such.  As happened to André Agassi.

He's coming here to compete.  It's not his fault that it's televised.

If the UK wants to host these events (for the purposes of the UK's image), it needs these people to turn up and compete and it needs it to be televised around the world.

So the tax foregone is the cost of the UK promoting its own image.

It's easy enough for him not to pay the tax as Peter says. He just doesn't come and he doesn't pay any tax.  If all the other athletes do the same...

The politicians are only blaming clever accountants to take the flak off them.  They negotiated the double tax treaties and it's their government department that's responsible for ensuring that transfer pricing is done properly.

The whole bloody world is constantly being blamed by the media for not paying their share of UK tax.  Just because they make so much noise about it doesn't make it right.

It's frequently the case that people that know the least, know it the loudest.

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07th Feb 2013 14:21

More will follow

UK Sport launched it's 'Gold Event Series' to attract & stage as many of the most important international sporting events in the UK in the period 2013-2019 following on from London 2012.

There are four key objectives which are listed below:

Support and profile high performance successCreate high-profile opportunities for people to engage with sportUse and demonstrate the legacy of London 2012 and Glasgow 2014Drive positive economic and social impacts for the UK 

For many of these events the organiser (FIFA, UEFA, IOC etc.) will include as part of the conditions for a successful bidder to indemnify the event holder from any tax liabilities that may arise on them as a result of being awarded the event and unless these can be given by government then staging particular events becomes a non-starter.

Studies have suggested that the amount of tax collected from non-UK resident athletes on their endorsement income is around £7m per annum - a minute sum when set against the UK's overall tax take. The substantial economic benefit to the UK economy that these events bring far exceed the tax lost and the social impact of hosting major events and being able to witness major sports stars in our country needs to ensure that we are able to host as many of these events as possible.


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07th Feb 2013 14:42

its all to promote the Olympic legacy

what is interesting is the way in which foreign 'entertainers' are taxed but foreign companies fall thro the net

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07th Feb 2013 16:10

But this can't be true...!

Because Tax Justice Network Guru Richard Murphy is continually assuring us that people do not change their behaviour because of changes in marginal rates of taxation.

If Usain Bolt decides that he would rather not pay 1/15 of his worldwide earnings to HMRC by not attending an international athletics meeting in the UK then that is a change in behaviour.

Perhaps John Cleese was right when he said "To boost the British economy I'd tax all foreigners living abroad."


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07th Feb 2013 16:30

Changes in behaviour

Richard (Guru?) Murphy wrote:

people do not change their behaviour because of changes in marginal rates of taxation.

I'm sure if the marginal rate were 0% there wouldn't be any tax avoidance!

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