LONDON, England, Friday August 17, 2012 – London 2012 triple Olympic gold medallist Usain “Lightning” Bolt has struck out at the British taxman and has refused to compete in the United Kingdom (UK) again until the country changes its tax laws.
The now legendary Jamaican sprinter, who grabbed gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the recently concluded Games, objects to a law that sees him taxed on global sponsorship and endorsement earnings as well as any appearance fee when he competes in Britain.
And despite his massive popularity in England, the 25-year-old, who has been reported to earn around US$20million (JAM$1.8billion) a year, says his UK-based fans won’t see him compete there again until the tax laws are loosened.
“As soon as the law changes, I’ll be here all the time,” Bolt said. “I love being here. I have so many Jamaican fans here and it’s wonderful.”
Glyn Bunting, a partner at Deloitte, told a British radio station that the UK customs and tax department would not only want a slice of Bolt’s winnings in the UK but also his multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with German sportswear giant Puma.
“Usain Bolt will be paid a considerable amount of money to wear a particular brand of clothing or a particular type of racing shoe and Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC) wants its share of that income,” Bunting said.
Bolt had not raced in the UK for three years prior to this year’s Olympics, for which HMRC announced a tax amnesty for competitors.
A spokesperson for the HMRC told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper: “The government put in place a tax exemption so that non-resident Olympic and Paralympic athletes would not pay UK tax on their income from Olympic and Paralympic appearances.
“Any tax on other UK income such athletes receive can in most cases be set off against tax paid in their home country.”