Serie A concerned over future of foreign stars as tax changes threatened
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Best Practice
Serie A concerned over future of foreign stars as tax changes threatened
by Jonathan Rest

The Italian Government is giving serious consideration to removing football from the country’s Growth Decree, in a bid to stop the distortion of the transfer market and help Italian players.

The Growth Decree is a fundamental law to support economic development in this country for all professionals who come from abroad. Football represents the 13th biggest industry in the country and in the last 13 years football has pumped over €14m in taxes into the Government coffers and has circa 7,700 employees.
Guiseppe Marotta
CEO, Inter Milan

A taxing situation in Italy

 

The law was introduced in 2019 to help bring fresh investment and talent into Italian business, including football, providing tax cuts for anyone coming in from abroad.

 

Because of these rules, it became more advantageous to buy a foreign player, as they could save 50% on taxes for his salary.

 

However, it has now been suggested that the benefits did not outweigh the damage done to local Italian talent, who were not considered viable investments.

 

Guiseppe Marotta, CEO of Inter Milan, the reigning Serie A champions, fears the Italian league will lose out to clubs in the other Big Five leagues if the law is reworded.

 

He told Italian news agency ANSA: "A specific amendment that only penalises the industry of professional sport is not only myopic and counter-productive, but it is also extremely discriminatory and confirms our sector is considered only residual in this country.

 

"The Growth Decree is a fundamental law to support economic development in this country for all professionals who come from abroad. Football represents the 13th biggest industry in the country and in the last 13 years football has pumped over €14m in taxes into the Government coffers and has circa 7,700 employees.

 

"We are working every day to make sure Italian football can return to being at least competitive with the most important European Leagues, who have for some time left us behind in terms of attractiveness and revenue."

 

Europe's most attractive destinations

 

Italy has the best taxation incentives for professional footballers, a recent study from the European Union revealed.

 

The study scrutinised the tax treatment of professional football players' remuneration throughout the EU, with Italy, along with the Netherlands and France and Belgium, the only nations with tax incentives specifically for football players’ income, or rather allow football players to enjoy the benefits of a beneficial expatriate tax regime.

 

Whereas in Italy where players (and indirectly the clubs) can enjoy a 50% tax-exempt part of their salary, it drops to 30% in the Netherlands and France.

 

The Italian government is now seeking to do what Spain did in 2015, when it excluded footballers from the so-called Beckham-law, which it introduced for players from 2004 when the former England captain moved to Real Madrid.


France does not have a specific tax regime in place for footballers, but it does allow them to qualify for the expatriate income tax regime which allows for significant tax benefits.

 

Belgium grants a tax benefit to clubs in the sports industry subject to the condition that such benefit is invested in the education of players below the age of 23, a rule that helps support a club’s own youth programme. 

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