London: England cricket stars would be facing an tax investigation into a loophole that could be saving players thousands of pounds a year.
England players such as Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss could be asked about their taxes as part of an inquiry by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) into the use of image rights companies by cricketers.
According to a newspaper, investigators have met in the past few weeks with officials from the sport’s governing body, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and have written to all 18 leading county sides, asking for information on how their players are paid.
The new probe will focus on companies that sports stars set up to handle their earnings from commercial deals and sponsorship.
The Companies House register showed that 11 of the 13 England cricketers on contract to the ECB have companies of this kind, which include James Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Eoin Morgan, Steven Finn, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Andrew Strauss and Graeme Swann.
However, when contacted, the players’ agents said none had been approached by Revenue & Customs in connection with the inquiry.
“Their earnings (from playing cricket) do not go through their image rights companies. The two are entirely separate,” Mike Martin, who represents Strauss, Cook and Prior.
The same notion was reiterated by Anderson’s agent, Luke Sutton and Bell and Pietersen’s agent Adam Wheatley.
Revenue & Customs believes some players may be avoiding their full tax liability by having a disproportionately large percentage of their salary paid into their image rights companies.