Saturday 17 March 2018

Irish stars of 2015 Rugby World Cup to face 50pc tax bill

Gavin Mairs

THE economic benefit to the United Kingdom of hosting the 2015 World Cup is projected to be more than £2.1 billion but top foreign players will not receive a tax break, in contrast to leading athletes such as Usain Bolt.

British Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Budget last week that star athletes such as Bolt would be exempt from paying income tax at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year and that the same exemption would be extended to the athletics event in London on the first anniversary of the Olympics.

Teams playing in the Champions League final at Wembley this year will also be exempt from tax, following requests from Uefa.

However, it is understood that the International Rugby Board did not make any request to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport that overseas players should receive a tax exemption during their stay in the UK. The tournament will run from Sept 18 to Oct 31.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs taxes the earnings by overseas athletes from appearance fees and prize money at 50 per cent. It also taxes athletes on a proportion of their global endorsement income.

The number of days a foreign athlete spends training and competing in Britain a year is divided by the total number of days the athlete trains and competes around the world. HMRC uses the figure to calculate the percentage of global income that is taxable.

The Rugby Football Union’s successful bid projected that the economic impact benefit to the country would be £2.1 billion and that the event would also generate £300million for the IRB, which relies on the tournament for 98 per cent of its income.

On top of the £80 million tournament fee, the UK market is predicted to attract a further £220 million in commercial returns from broadcasting, sponsorship and merchandising.

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