July 10 – Star Spanish and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has lost his legal battle with the tax authorities and will have to pay €2.1 million in penalties and back taxes.
Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, has rejected an appeal filed by Pique against a decision by the Central Administrative Economic Tribunal (TEAC) mandating him to pay that amount for taxes owed in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Tax authorities say that Piqué used a company to transfer his earnings from image rights to his own company, Kerad Project 2006, to pay a corporate tax rate of 30% instead of personal income tax of 45%.
In December 2016, the TEAC ruled that Piqué must pay €1,457,855.61 in back taxes plus another €678,012.59 in penalties. He appealed to the High Court, which ruled against him in May of this year. He could still appeal to the Supreme Court.
Spanish authorities have recently started turning their attention to millionaire footballers trying to reduce their tax payments after for years turning a blind eye. As a result, a long list of superstars have been investigated and sanctioned including the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi paid a €2 million fine in 2016 and received a 21-month jail term, although the sentence was later reduced to a further fine of €252,000. Ronaldo was handed a suspended two-year prison sentence before he agreed to pay €18.8 million in fines and back taxes.
The Pique verdict comes a month after his wife, Colombian musician Shakira, was questioned by a judge over alleged evasion of €14.5 million in taxes.
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