Italy wins the European tax regimes. Between the measure attracts Scrooge and the regime of impatriate workers, the Bel Paese is the nation with the most favorable tax in the EU for professional footballers. This is what emerges from the “Taxing professional football in the Eu” study requested by the subcommittee on tax affairs of the European parliament (Fisc) which studies the tax treatment of players in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands. The tax authorities for professional footballers also contribute to creating uneven playing conditions. However, while member states have a different approach to player taxation, most realize the importance of an attractive regime for an ever-growing industry, the report points out. Most of the member states selected in the research, in fact, either provide for a relief on the taxation of the income of footballers (or the income of athletes in general), have had in the past or are considering the introduction of these measures. We can therefore distinguish four different categories of countries in the EU.
The first concerns countries with tax incentives for (among others) the income of footballers: the Netherlands, France, Italy and Belgium. The first three do not provide targeted incentives for the football industry, but all of them allow players to enjoy the benefits of a very advantageous tax regime for repatriation. These schemes allow footballers (and indirectly clubs) to enjoy a salary exemption and thus basically allow an optimization of the tax base of the players’ income. The Netherlands and France allow a 30% exemption, while Italy allows a 50% exemption. The application of these schemes is subject to restrictions, especially in the Netherlands. Belgium also has a tax regime for impatriates, but does not allow this regime to be applied to footballers. This state, however, offers a tax incentive in relation to withholding taxes for sports clubs, where 80% of the withholding tax does not have to be paid to the tax administration but can be spent by the clubs (mostly provided that the incentive is spent on the education of young players). The second, however, those countries that had some tax incentives in place. Spain introduced an impatriation regime in 2004, which is often referred to as the Beckham law. This regime allowed non-resident tax status for football players migrating to Spain and the use of preferential tax rates. As of 2015, the regime can no longer be applied by players. The third includes countries with specific tax regimes, even if not applicable to footballers. Portugal introduced the non-habitual tax residence regime in 2009. This regime, among other things, allows skilled workers to benefit from a preferential tax rate of 20% on earned income. This very advantageous tax regime is not open to footballers. Finally, the fourth illustrates the situation of countries without specific tax regimes. Germany, for example, has no specific tax regime on the income of professional footballers. It is difficult to compare the individual tax burden of a football player on a national basis, explains the study, as this will depend on the level of salary, the type of remuneration received, the application (or not) of certain tax incentives and many other parameters.