Behind the financial and media escalation, a good deal for the state coffers? The signing by Lionel Messi, Tuesday, August 10, of a two-year contract with PSG – with an additional year as an option – should bring tens of millions of euros to the French tax authorities. And this, despite the very advantageous tax status of “impatriates”.
Although the details of his contract with the club to Qatari owners are not officially known, the Argentine footballer, hired for an annual salary of more than 30 million euros excluding bonuses, will, in all likelihood, benefit from this scheme. tax exemption, very popular with City employees who returned to France due to Brexit, but also many international athletes.
His future teammate, the Brazilian Neymar, had already benefited from it when he arrived in Paris in 2017. “Taking into account the detailed knowledge that the clubs have of this regime, it would be surprising if this is not the case”, understands a ministerial source.
Often complex financial arrangements
To benefit from the impatriate regime, you must not have resided in France for five years, and be domiciled there for tax purposes. His advantages ? A flat-rate exemption from income tax of up to 30% of net salary.
The wealth tax having disappeared since the start of Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term, the exemption provided for by this statute is transferred to his successor, the IFI (tax on real estate wealth). But Messi is unlikely to be subject to it, as sportsmen have little interest in acquiring property in a country where they will only spend a short part of their career.
On the other hand, the impatriate regime also provides for a halving of the tax payable on image rights, which commonly represent the equivalent of the salary for football stars. An arrangement at the origin of often complex financial arrangements, which can go through offshore companies, where the border sometimes turns out to be fine between tax optimization and fraud …
The French tax authorities could be all the more attentive on the subject as Lionel Messi has already dealt with justice on this subject: in 2016 and 2017, he was convicted in Spain with his father, for a tax fraud relating to 4, 16 million euros in image rights irregularities. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison (turned into a fine) and a fine of 2.1 million euros. And his name appears again in the “Panama Papers” in 2018 and in the “Football Leaks” in 2019.
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