UK: Reconsideration of taxation of foreign sportspersons?

Last July the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt announced that he will not compete in the United Kingdom because of its tax rules for foreign sportspersons. Foreign sportspersons (and artistes) who perform in the United Kingdom are subject to UK tax on tournament prize winnings, appearance fees, and other sports-related income including endorsements income from clothing, shoes, equipments and patches. In the case of Mr. Bolt, this will lead to the situation that in case of participating in a UK sports event he would have to pay more tax than he could win from the participation.

In contrast with this extended and broad tax liability is the fact the players in the forthcoming 2001 Champions League Final are by concession exempt from UK tax, and also that participants in the 2012 Olympic Games will be exempt from UK tax.

The UK Minister of Sport and Olympics has stated during a Radio interview that he would be happy to discuss the issues with Bolt, but that the time would be too short to arrange for a tax concession for Blot or the forthcoming athletic event.

COMMENT Combing a broad tax liability for foreign sportspersons with tax exemptions for the commercially most global interesting events and the globally best paid sportspersons seems to be in conflict with sound principles of tax policy. There are not many of this type of such open and public reverse positive discrimination of high income earners. It is interesting to await whether society will accept this situation for a longer period of time.