October 23, 2015

Considered some of the highest paid individuals in the world, sports personalities attract a lot of attention, including the taxman’s. No revenue body would want to miss out on the huge tax potentials most of these players have- and that consequently attracts a lot of scrutiny, which in some cases, ends badly for sports personalities who fail to accurately file their returns.

Conventional wisdom would hold that none of these personalities are expected to evade taxes or fail to correctly fail their returns. After all, their huge pays would afford them reputable accountants on retainer to update their tax records, and still retain significantly high sums of money after tax deductibles.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, this doesn’t always apply. There are many sports celebrities not in good standing with the taxman, who walk around with the sniper tax rifle aimed at them. A significant number of them have attracted massive fines and jail terms, and others have spent hours in court rooms answering tax evasion charges. Here are the details on the top sports personalities accused of tax evasion:

Bill Whittington

In 1986, Bill Whittington, an American Racing Driver, was arrested and charged for conspiracy to smuggle narcotics and tax evasion. In a case that attracted a lot of public attention, Bill pleaded guilty hoping for leniency from the court. The court was lenient alright, and it handed him a 15 years jail sentence, which he was fortunate not to serve to completion. He was later released after 4 years of incarceration.

Boris Becker

Boris Becker, the former world’s number one tennis player, suffered a big blow in 2002 when he was charged for failing to pay taxes between 1991 and 2002, after claiming to live in the tax haven Monaco while he was actually living in Munich. After pleading guilty, he was forced to pay a tax amount of $3M plus accrued interest, fined half a million dollars, and put in probation for 2 years for tax evasion.

Garth Leroux

Garth Leroux, a former South African cricketer, was charged in 2006 for 48 tax related irregularities. The hearing, which strung for 2 years, found him guilty and handed him and 4 year jail sentence. The conviction was ultimately toppled in 2010, subsequently clearing him of all charges and releasing him from jail.

Manny Pacquiao

Despite being Philippines’ number one taxpayer, Manny Pacquiao currently faces charges on tax evasion between 2008 and 2009, amounting to $51 million. In his defense, Manny claims to have paid the taxes in the United States and should be exempted from double taxation, considering the existing tax treaty between the two countries. His country’s revenue bureau however, insists that he’s yet to prove payment of his tax dues through the IRS.

Lionel Messi

After being accused of filing falsified returns between 2007 and 2009, Lionel Messi’s charges were dropped by Spanish Authorities. His father however, wasn’t that lucky, and will stand trial for a tax fraud of 4 million pesos.

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