Bolt sprints from UK tax authorities

Updated: 
The world's fastest man will not compete on UK soil again until the British Government taxes him less. Usain Bolt - he earned around £12.7m last year - could see his £12.5m Puma sponsorship deal taxed at the 50% higher tax rate were he to compete in Britain in future.

Is the Jamaican - he avoided running in the UK for three years until the Olympics - right to challenge HMRC?

Taxman races Bolt

HMRC claims that Jamaican Bolt (and others foreign athletes like him) should not just be taxed on their winnings but also on a proportion of their sponsorship earnings - their wider earnings, in other words. Especially in the current climate and with a shrinking UK tax base generally.

But the Olympics was a tax-free event for the triple gold medalist (and others) as the Government switched the tax rules - with some pressure from the International Olympic Committee - to create some concessions. (There were other concessions too for the Champions League Final at Wembley.)


£9bn space to perform

British taxpayers, on the other hand, did not complain much about coughing up the £9bn to give Bolt the space to perform at the Olympics. And without that space, little opportunity to showcase sponsorship. Bolt, remember, is not just an athlete: running is what the 25-year-old does for a job (and is very well paid for being the best in world at it).

"As soon as the law changes I'll be here all the time," Bolt is quoted in the Express: "I love being here, I have so many Jamaican fans here and it's wonderful."

Bolt has previously spurned UK sporting events because of the personal tax impact. In 2010 he turned down the chance of a UK three-way fight between himself, Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay. According to Celebrity Networth, the athlete's net worth rings in at $30m.

Nadal support

Bolt has supporters on the tax issue. Spanish-born Rafa Nadal has also complained of the UK tax system (though Spain could equally do with tax revenues currently).

Should HMRC be more accommodating to big-name athletes? Or do you agree with their approach? Let us know in the comments.

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