The Open: This week's biggest winner? The taxman...

Taxman Story

There might be a record prize fund on the line at Royal St George’s this week, with the new ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’ set to pocket a cool $2,070,000.

However, the biggest winner from this week’s Open looks set to be somebody who won't even swing a club - the taxman.

Kreston Reeves reckons that HMRC will be laughing all the way to the bank after it helps itself to a substantial chunk of the 156-man field’s earnings.

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The accountancy firm, which has offices in Sandwich, has warned that overseas golfers playing in the tournament, irrespective of whether they win or not, are likely to face an unwelcome tax bill for a percentage of their endorsed income.

Julie Burton, a senior private client tax manager at Kreston Reeves, explained: “Golfers will receive endorsement income for using a particular make of club or wearing a clothing brand, with their contracts typically specifying that it should be used or worn in the tournaments in which they appear.

“HMRC will argue that a proportion of that endorsed income whilst playing in the UK is taxable, based on the number of days played at the tournament and practice beforehand, compared to the total number of days spent training, practice days or playing golf worldwide in any one year. 

"That could leave golfers with quite considerable tax bills.”

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Not even those players who miss the cut will be exempt from the taxman’s attentions and may still find themselves with an unexpected tax liability.

 “It is a position that many professional sportsmen and women understandably consider unfair, and perhaps with good reason,” added Burton. “The Euro 2020 championship was given an exemption to this tax rule, as was the London Olympics. Those who play individual sports, such as golf and tennis, are often those most affected.”

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