\”I wouldn\’t be optimistic about seeing Bolt compete on British soil this year and there is a strong chance he won\’t be back until 2012,\” said an insider close to the negotiations with the Jamaican.
Since April, foreign sports stars competing in Britain are liable for a top rate of income tax of 50 per cent but, controversially, the tax is charged not just on the money they earn in Britain but on a proportion of their worldwide sponsorship income.
Under the old rules, athletes\’ tax bills were based on how many days they competed in Britain, so if they competed in the country for one week, they would be charged one 52nd of their endorsement earnings.
Now, HM Revenue & Customs bases its charge on what proportion of an athlete\’s competitions take place in Britain. An athlete competing in 10 events globally with one of them held in Britain could be charged one 10th of his worldwide earnings at a top rate of 50 per cent.
In the case of Bolt, that would mean a potentially colossal tax bill that could outweigh any prize money or appearance fee he earns from racing in Britain.
Sports chiefs have warned that foreign stars across a range of sports could snub Britain because of the harsh tax regime.
Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia has scaled back his British appearances to just the Open Championship for tax reasons, while the new rule on overseas stars were cited by Uefa president Michel Platini as a key reason why Wembley missed out on hosting this year\’s Champions League final.